young people toasting restaurant table

Do you love eating out, but are worried about being unable to control your blood glucose? Eating out doesn’t have to play havoc with your blood glucose, if you plan for it properly. To assist you in your culinary endeavors, diabetesmellitus.ca has developed 5 foolproof tips for eating out with diabetes.

1. Food Groups à la Diabetes 

As a diabetic you know that you always have to consider the carbohydrate content of food. But, there is more to food choices than only the carbohydrate content. Also, very important is the fat content of food. The food choices which you make will always fit into one of the following groups:

  • Carbohydrates (Grains and Starches, Fruits, Milk and Alternatives, and Sweets and Snacks)
  • Vegetables
  • Meats and Alternatives
  • Fats

In order to properly classify the food you order, you must be able to identify which group they fit into, for example:

  • French Fries fit into both Grains and Starches, and into Fat categories
  • Goulash fits into both Grains and Starches, and Meats and Alternatives

2. Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo, If It’s Fatty, It Should Go

When you eat out the fat content of food is usually much higher than it is when you eat in. Consider this: even if the food itself is lean, the preparation process could have added fat. Cooking methods which minimize fat are baking, broiling, poaching and steaming, and are usually healthier. Whereas, with stir-fried foods the fat content depends on whether they were prepared with a large or small quantity of oil. Also, good choices are foods which allow you to control what you add to them. For example, choose a baked potato instead of mashed potatoes. With a baked potato you can add the toppings, whereas in the preparation of the mashed potatoes the cook may have already added butter, oil, or cream.

3. The Goldilocks Approach

Just because restaurants serve big portions, doesn’t mean that you have to eat all the food on your plate. Talk to your server to obtained detailed information about how much food you will be served. If you have a meal planning approach, implement it when ordering and discussing your choice with your waiter. Beware, restaurants can serve too much, too little, and will not know how much food is “just right” without you providing the proper specifications.

Furthermore, if you use carbohydrate counting as your method of meal planning, then ask to be provided with a nutrition information booklet.

4. Timing Is Everything

If you have a meal plan developed, then the carbohydrate amount should be distributed evenly over the course of a day. In order for your body to use carbohydrates most efficiently, the goal is to eat every four to six hours. Therefore, if you are eating out it is important to consider whether you are delaying or skipping a meal as it can lead to a hypoglycemic episode. Timing also plays a role in insulin injection times. Taking insulin at home before going to eat may not be the best option, should you there be a line up and you won’t be seated for 30 minutes. Next, if you eat out regularly then you need to be more attentive to both your food choices and your glucose testing. However, if you eat out rarely you may not need to be as careful about portion sizes or choices.

5. Bon appétit!

Enjoy yourself; choose foods that you really like! If you really want a particular food but it may have more carbohydrates than another then substitute it for two other foods with lower carbohydrate contents. For example, if a restaurant has excellent bread, have a roll but go without the potato. You can manipulate your meal so that it works for you.   

Follow the above tips, and plan ahead, so that when your food is served you can sit back, relax and dig in.

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