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  • Dining Out with Diabetes
    For a diabetic, food choices are one of the most important ways to keep blood sugar levels in check. While eating out can be a challenge for diabetics, there are safe menu selections. Not sure what those choices are? Here are a few suggestions. Read >>
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Dining Out with Diabetes

The best and worst menu options for those living with diabetes.

Appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes, sides, desserts, and drinks. With a long menu it can be hard deciding what to order when eating out. You may ask the waiter for recommendations, go for something safe, or be adventurous and order something new. But for folks trying to manage diabetes, the decision of what to eat may not be as difficult because safe and healthy options are limited.

As anyone with diabetes knows, the foods you eat affect your insulin production and your body's response to insulin. For a diabetic, food choices are one of the most important ways to keep blood sugar levels in check. While eating out can be a challenge for diabetics, there are safe menu selections. Not sure what those choices are? Here are a few suggestions.

Start Smart

Snacking on an appetizer can relieve hunger while you wait for your meal. While the majority of appetizer options are unhealthy for diabetics and non-diabetics alike, there are a few safer bets to choose. You’ll want to stay away from cream-based soups and broths, breaded or fried foods, and sauces. Unless your meal plan allows, limit breads and rolls. Look for appetizers that include fresh fruits or vegetables like chips and salsa or bruschetta.

Go Salad

A salad that's made with the right ingredients is a great option for someone living with diabetes. Again, choose a salad that's made with fresh vegetables or fruit. To limit the amount of sodium in your diet, steer clear of salads that contain cured meats, seasoned croutons, cheeses, pickles, and salted nuts or seeds. When picking a dressing, choose an oil- and vinegar-based salad option, ask for it on the side, and use it sparingly.

Diabetes-Safe Dishes

In order to keep blood sugar levels in check when eating with diabetes, limit your intake of carbohydrates, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Certain off-limits menu options are easy to spot: white pasta and rice dishes, fried foods, and most desserts. Dine at restaurants that offer healthier options or can prepare food to meet your dietary needs. Buffet-style establishments that serve unlimited amounts of already-prepared food can be dangerous for folks with a health condition like diabetes.

In general, a diabetic's food should be served plain, with little seasoning, and all sauces or gravies on the side so you can limit how much you eat. Your meat, poultry, or fish should be broiled, roasted, or grilled and made without breading. If the menu is unclear about how a food is prepared, ask your server.

Many restaurants serve generous portion sizes that increase your risk for overeating. Since it's important for those with diabetes to monitor portion sizes, split your meal with a friend or have the server box up half of your meal before bringing it to the table.

Don’t Desert Dessert

Most desserts have a bad rap, but there are a few that make the list of sweets safe for a diabetic's meal plan. Yes, you'll have to overlook the molten chocolate cake and the apple pie á la mode, but you can satisfy your sweet tooth with options like fresh fruit, sherbet, ices, and plain cakes.

Drink Wisely

The sugars found in sweetened or alcoholic beverages can quickly use up a diabetic's carb allotment. Rather than drinking sweet tea, lemonade, soda, or high-sugar alcoholic drinks made with high-calorie mixers, choose water with lemon or unsweetened tea.