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Eating Out With Type 2 Diabetes

Plan Ahead

Do you know one of the best tools for eating out effectively? Planning ahead! There are things you can prepare for ahead of time to make sure you can stay in control of what you eat.
For instance, it can be difficult to ask for something specifically designed for your individual meal plan, especially if it isn't on the menu. However, try to remember that it is in a server's best interest to give you what you want. That is why you are paying a little extra for a night out! This can take practice and planning to know what to ask for, particularly in public. It's not necessarily something that comes naturally.
One of the biggest challenges of eating out for those with type 2 diabetes is making good food choices. By planning ahead, you can prepare yourself for difficult -- and possibly uncomfortable -- situations and be able to handle them more easily.
One of the great benefits of the World Wide Web is the great thing called "online menus." Many restaurants have a Web site that may include a daily menu. This is a great resource to use ahead of time, as you can see what foods they offer. Using the menu, you can start to plan ahead for what would be a good food choice that still meets your meal-plan goals.
If you are planning on going out to eat for dinner, try to eat less fat and fewer calories than usual for other meals during the day. It can also help to eat a small, healthy snack before you go out to eat.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want

Although it may seem odd or obnoxious, don't be afraid to ask for what you want to eat. Those who work at restaurants expect that people will ask for what they want, and they are accustomed to serving people with various health conditions and allergies that affect food choices. You are paying for the meal, so ask about the healthy food options that will fall in line with your type 2 diabetes meal plan.
Specifically, try to ask for foods that are:
  • Low in fat and calories
  • Cooked in different ways (for instance, if a salad comes with fried chicken, ask about having the chicken baked, broiled, or grilled instead)
  • Not on the menu (don't be afraid to ask if there are certain foods that may not be included on the menu).
You can also ask your server about the serving size of the dishes. In general, the servings you will receive in a restaurant will be larger than those you would normally prepare at home, except for gourmet restaurants, which tend to have smaller portions.
Other tips to help prepare you ahead of time include the following:
  • Ask for the salad dressing or other sauces to be on the side
  • Ask for less or no cheese
  • Split the main dish or dessert with someone else
  • Order a small size, such as an appetizer, children's meal, or half portion
  • If you don't know what's in a dish or what the serving size is, don't be afraid to ask
  • Ask for substitutions -- instead of French fries, ask if you can double an order of a vegetable
  • Ask if your food can be prepared with vegetable oil or low-fat margarine, and little salt
  • Ask if the item can be grilled or broiled instead of fried
  • Try to portion off the food as you would at home, and ask for a doggie bag for anything exceeding your individual meal plan.
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