5 Tips for a Successful Restaurant Outing With T2D
Last updated: November 2023
Dining out may go from delightful to stressful after a type 2 diabetes (T2D) diagnosis. But there are a few ways to set yourself up for success. Here are some simple tips that make it easier to manage your blood sugar levels when eating away from home with T2D.
1. Research the menu
Look up the menu prior to arriving at the restaurant. Once you're there, you may feel rushed to order quickly by the waitstaff or members of your party. If you browse the menu ahead of time, you'll have a chance to examine your selections and find the best options. This can also be an excellent way to ensure you order enough food to satisfy your hunger without ordering more than you will actually eat.
2. Be mindful of your drink order
Ordering water instead of soda, sweetened tea, or juice will instantly cut down your sugar intake. Although having a lemonade, sweetened iced tea, or soda may sound refreshing, opting for water is a great choice when living with diabetes. Sweetened beverages are not only high in added sugar but also contain approximately 150 calories per serving.1
With free refills, you can imagine how quickly the calories and sugar add up! And calories from soda are considered "empty calories," meaning they have no necessary nutritional value. If plain water is dull, ask for lemons and limes on the side to give it a little natural flavor. Sparkling water can also be a more exciting beverage option.
3. Add in vegetables
Adding vegetables to your primary course is a great way to get fiber, vitamins, minerals, and satisfaction. There are multiple ways to do this. You can ask for a side salad before your meal, ask for vegetables instead of chips to dip into salsa, substitute cooked vegetables for fries or potatoes, or choose a large dinner salad as your entrée. Because vegetables are low-calorie and high in fiber, they are a great choice to feel full without overeating.2
4. Order lean protein
Although protein sources often do not contain carbohydrates and will not impact your blood sugar levels, there are other health benefits to lean proteins. Examples of lean proteins include baked fish, grilled or baked chicken breast without the skin, and grilled shrimp. Choosing lean proteins may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.3
Proteins that are not considered lean include steak, fried chicken or shrimp, and bacon. These protein sources contain more saturated fat due to their source or how they are cooked. With fried foods, oil and breading is usually added, which increases the amount of fat and carbohydrate in the food.4
5. Focus on a large, well-balanced meal
Make your main meal the main event. With appetizers, main courses, and desserts on the menu, it can be challenging to reach your nutrition goals. Skipping an appetizer and dessert can help you maintain a proper portion size and not leave you with that overstuffed feeling. You can still enjoy an appetizer or dessert if you're mindful of the portion size, so share it with the table!
The next time you head out for dinner, will you try any of these suggestions? If so, take notes on what did or did not work for you to remember for your next outing!
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?