Eating out when you have diabetes

With planning, you can follow your meal plan for diabetes when you eat at restaurants. Here are some tips:

  • Look for restaurants that have heart-healthy items marked on their menus, and choose these items whenever possible.
  • Request pamphlets from your favorite fast-food restaurants—most fast-food restaurants have printed material that provides the carbohydrate, calorie, and fat information for many of their menu items. If this information is not available, go to your local bookstore and purchase a pocket guide that includes it.
  • Review the diabetes food guide pyramid so that you will know where the various foods fit in and, most importantly, which foods contain carbohydrate.
  • Review your meal plan, if necessary, so you will know how many carbohydrate choices you should have at that meal.

At the restaurant

Restaurants typically give generous servings. A 12-ounce steak provides four to six meat servings in one meal; only two to three servings are recommended for an entire day. Ask for a half-size portion of the meal. If you enjoy leftovers, half the meal could be put in a to-go box. Ask that the box be brought with the meal, so that the meal can be halved before you even take the first bite. Another option is to split the meal.

Appetizers can add a lot of fat and calories (and carbohydrate, depending on the item). Unless healthy choices are available, you may want to skip appetizers, especially if weight loss is a goal for you.

To cut down on fat (especially saturated fat):

  • Choose reduced-fat salad dressings.
  • Order grilled, baked, broiled, boiled, and steamed foods (and ask the cook to go light on the fat during cooking).
  • Use half your usual amount of butter and sour cream and ask that these be served on the side.
  • Rarely choose cream sauces, such as Alfredo, and gravies.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

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