Dining Out With Diabetes

african american woman feeding african american man in a restaurant(BlackDoctor.org) — Dining in restaurants as a diabetic can be just as difficult as dining out as a vegan. The excitement of taking a break from cooking at home and being served can disappear if stress about what to order and temptation take over.

In order to maintain safe blood glucose levels for those with diabetes, it’s best to learn the right approach to take when stepping into a restaurant.

The following are some tips for making healthy choices when partaking in a variety of cuisines:

Mexican food can be full of carbohydrates with large portions of rice, beans and tortillas. It can also be high in fat from sour cream, cheese and fried foods, such as chimichangas. Limiting portion sizes of tortillas, rice and beans can limit the carbohydrate content, and choosing lower-fat entrees will make for healthier eating. Also, don’t forget to limit the chips and salsa—it’s easy to consume large amounts of calories, carbs and fat even before you begin your meal. If you love chips and salsa, take a handful and then ask for the basket to be removed from the table.

Look for these on the menu:
• Soft tacos with chicken or fish topped with salsa
• Chicken or shrimp fajitas
• Taco salad (without the fried shell)
• Broth-based soup
• Chicken with rice
• Chicken burritos (easy on cheese, sour cream)

Chinese food can be notorious for raising blood sugar levels, therefore making healthy choices here is very important. The base of the Chinese cuisine is healthy—lots of vegetables and lean meat such as chicken. However, when you throw in extra large portions of white or fried rice, egg rolls, breaded and fried chicken, and sugar-laden sauces, Chinese food can become quite unhealthy quickly. Be aware of these foods and opt for some better choices. Remember to watch your portion size of rice, and white rice is always better than fried rice. Brown rice would be the best choice if available.

Look for these on the menu:
• Hot and sour soup
• Wonton soup
• Chicken or beef chop suey
• Stir-fried chicken or shrimp with vegetables
• Chicken chow mein

Asking for extra vegetables and less sauce can decrease carbs and help fill you up too.

Italian restaurants can be full of high-carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, lasagna and risotto. Many dishes are also high in fat with cream sauces, cheeses, sausage or pepperoni. Fried foods such as chicken or eggplant Parmesan, or fried appetizers like calamari or shrimp are the foods to limit. One of the healthiest changes you can make at an Italian restaurant is to limit your portion size of pasta. Think of pasta (and rice) as a side dish rather than the main entrée. Usually one cup of pasta, which contains 45 grams of carbohydrates, is a proper portion size for most people. The next time you are eating pasta at home, measure out one cup of cooked pasta to get an idea of what it looks like on your plate.

Look for these on the menu:
• Chicken or veal piccata, Marsala, or cacciatore
• Grilled or baked fish
• Pasta with marinara sauce with chicken, fish or vegetables
• Minestrone soup
• Salad with low-fat dressing

If you are going to a restaurant that offers a variety of foods such as burgers, fries, salad and soups, then you can definitely choose wisely. Beware of high-fat fried foods such as French fries, breaded and fried chicken or fish, or salads that contain breaded meats.

Look for these on the menu:
• Grilled chicken sandwiches
• Turkey burgers
• Baked potatoes
• Broth-based or bean soups such as chicken noodle or black bean
• Baked or grilled fish
• Salads with tuna, grilled chicken or shrimp with low-fat dressing
• Chicken or turkey wraps that are easy on the cheese, mayo or other sauces

Anyone can enjoy eating out with diabetes, but make sure to use the above information to make healthy choices.