Eating at restaurants is something that most people enjoy, and everyone should! It’s a time to spend with family or friends where you can have a tasty meal without having to do the cooking. With that being said, it can certainly be tempting to order whatever you want on the menu.
Unfortunately, calories and detrimental ingredients can rack up quickly when you’re eating out. One meal alone may comprise an entire day’s worth of calories and sugars for someone with diabetes. That’s why you need to stick to some guidelines when you eat out. You can enjoy a delicious meal and make healthier choices at the same time!
Managing your diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up on eating at restaurants altogether. Here are some tips for staying on track while still enjoying a restaurant meal:
1. Do Your Research
If you’re not sure where you’ll be dining, be the first to suggest a place, and choose one with healthy meal options! If you already have a destination picked out, research the menu. Most restaurants have their meal options online, and some even show nutritional information. Knowing your meal plan beforehand can keep you from making a spur of the moment decision at the restaurant that you’ll later regret.
2. Start With Water
You might be very hungry when you enter a restaurant, but resist the urge to splurge on a soft drink or alcoholic beverage. Water will help to satiate some of that hunger, and you’ll be able to eat more of your calories instead of wasting them on drinks.
3. Skip the Free Bread
Free bread is another temptation. If you know that a restaurant offers free bread of chips, ask your table mates if they would mind asking the waiter to skip the altogether. If your fellow diners would like the bread, make sure it stays on the other side of the table and don’t indulge.
3. Get the To-Go Box Right Away
Most restaurants give outrageously large portions to their guests. These portion sizes are in no way representative of what you should be eating in one meal, and this is especially true if you’re a diabetic. Ask your waiter to box up half your meal from the get-go. It’s a surefire way to stop yourself from overindulging.
4. Share Something
If you’re not so comfortable asking the waiter about a doggy bag beforehand, consider asking someone you’re with to share an item on the menu. You’ll definitely get enough to eat, you won’t eat too much, and you’ll both save money!
5. When In Doubt, Choose a Salad
Salads are usually the healthiest things on the menu. This is especially true at fast food restaurants. Some people think of salads as the ultimate boring dieter’s meal, but if you find a good one, it can be delicious. Think almonds, blue cheese and apples with a raspberry vinaigrette or grilled chicken and pecans with a mandarin orange glaze! But you do have to be careful. Some salads are loaded with sugar, fat and carbs that try to mask themselves as healthy. Croutons, cheeses and thick dressings add up, so keep an eye out.