Having diabetes doesn’t deprive you of eating out. If you eat out regularly, you will need to pay close attention to food choices and serving sizes to manage your weight and diabetes.
Don’t limit your enjoyment by thinking you need to go to a special restaurant or eat special meals just because you have diabetes. You’ll soon discover that many restaurants serve foods that are suitable for healthy eating. Most will also value your patronage and are more than happy to help if you can’t find something suitable on the menu. Ask restaurant staff about the dish of your choice and the way it’s been cooked, and request simple changes if required.
Try to choose meals that:
- Are lower in fat and particularly low in saturated fat
- Contain breads, cereals (preferably wholegrain), vegetables (including legumes) and/or fruits
- Do not have a large amount of sugar added.
Insulin & Eating Out
When eating out there a few things you need to consider.
- Your meal may be served later than usual, so to avoid a ‘hypo’, take your insulin with you and give your injection as the meal arrives.
- Be sure to choose a meal with enough carbohydrate. Ask for extra bread, rice, potato, fruit or fruit juice if you need more.
- If you are having a bigger meal with more carbohydrate than usual, you may need to increase your insulin dose prior to the meal on that special occasion. Discuss this with your doctor, dietitian or Credentialled Diabetes Educator first.
What to Drink
When you arrive ask for a jug of iced water before ordering other drinks. Throughout the meal drink:
- Water: plain, mineral or soda
- Low joule/calorie soft drinks
- Coffee, tea, herbal tea.
Don’t drink fruit juice (unless you need additional carbohydrates).
If you want to drink alcohol limit it to:
- 2 standard drinks a day for men
- 1 standard drink a day for women.
Remember you need at least two alcohol-free days a week.
Healthier Food Choices
Listed below are ideas for making healthier food choices in different types of restaurants including takeaway.
- Choose minestrone/vegetable soup rather than creamy soups
- Choose grilled fish or other seafood
- Choose pasta with tomato or vegetable based sauces
- Choose lean meat or chicken.
- Choose yoghurt or bean based dips
- Choose grilled marinated meat on skewers or in Lebanese bread with salad
- Choose felafel, kibbi, tabouleh and bean salad.
- Choose tostadas, enchiladas, burritos or tacos
- Choose less meat and more beans
- Ask for less cheese, sour cream and gaucamole
- Ask for extra salad as a filling or side dish.
- Choose oven baked samosa, lean meat/chicken/fish in curry sauces, herbs, spices or tandoori
- Choose curried vegetables, steamed rice, naan, chapati, roti
- Limit curries based on cream/coconut milk/coconut cream, rice pilau, poori (deep fried flatbread)
Asian (Chinese, Thai, Malaysian)
- Choose noodle/vegetable soups
- Try steamed entrées instead of fried
- Fill your plate with rice/noodles and vegetables, and use the meat/fish/poultry as the flavouring
- Choose steamed, braised, curried or barbecued seafood/lean meat/skinless poultry
- Choose stir-fry dishes with lean meat/fish/poultry/tofu and vegetables
- Limit dishes containing coconut cream/milk
- Limit deep fried or battered dishes
- Ask for an entrée size meal as a main dish
- Limit dishes described as au gratin, creamed, battered, crispy, pan fried
- Try a crusty roll without butter or margarine
- Request sauces or dressings to be served on the side, so you can control the amount you use
- Order extra steamed vegetables without butter, or a salad without dressing to help fill you up
- Share a dessert or ask for a small serving
- Have fresh fruit salad or sorbet instead of rich desserts
- Beware of extras (e.g. butter with bread, chips with meal, chocolates and cream with coffee)
- If the meal is low in carbohydrate, ask for some extra bread
- Choose salads based on rice, pasta, potato or beans for additional carbohydrate
- If choosing from a smorgasbord, try not to overeat. First start with three or four choices, and then go back if you are still hungry
- Choose foods that are low in salt and don’t add extra salt at the table.
- Eat slowly and talk a lot!