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Dining Out Tips for Diabetics

By HERWriter
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Diabetes and Dining Out Photo: Getty Images

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The average American eats out at least four to five times a week." Most of our social activities and cultural activities revolve around food. It is almost impossible not to eat out.

When it comes to diabetics dining out, Nora Saul, M.S, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E, of the Joslin Clinic said, "Choose foods that you really like. Decide if it is really good and worth it, and if it is, make accommodations. If a place has very good bread, maybe have a roll, but skip the potato. If you like sweets, share a dessert with a few other people, and take a walk afterwards."

Here is a combination of dining out tips from the Joslin Diabetes Center, AAPR, American Diabetic Association, the National Diabetes Education Program and Diabetic Living:

Plan ahead:

• Ask your dinner companions to eat at the time you normally eat.

• Choose a restaurant with a large menu of healthy items.

• Call the restaurant ahead of time and ask if they can handle special requests.

Order wisely:

• Ask your server how the food is prepared.

• Order an appetizer for a main course.

• Eat half of your meal or split an entree with a friend. Take the rest home.

• Request substitutions. Order fruit or vegetables instead of french fries.

• Avoid breaded or fried foods, or foods in heavy sauces.

• Order grilled or broiled fish or poultry.

• Order sauces and salad dressing on the side.

• Limit alcohol to one serving.

Safe foods:

• Whole wheat rolls or bread

• Fat-free/low-fat milk or water

• Salad with dressing on the side or fat-free

• Fruit or cottage cheese

• Wrap on whole wheat tortilla (no dressing)

• Low-fat deli sandwiches on wheat or pita bread

• Single hamburger, regular or children's size

• Grilled chicken

• Low-fat or sugar-free frozen yogurt

Other quick tips:

• Have a small snack before going to a restaurant.

• Always leave the restaurant with a “doggie bag”.

Things to avoid:

• Super-sized foods

• French fries

• Onion rings

• Double burgers

• Super hot dogs with cheese and or chili

• Restaurants with buffets

Medical experts agree diabetics should steer clear of buffets and all-you-can-eat restaurants. However, if your family reunion, wedding or picnic consists of buffet, here are some tips from Diabetic Gourmet Magazine:

• Drink water, unsweetened tea or diet soda.

• When it comes to alcoholic beverages, drink only with a meal.

• Women should have only one alcoholic drink and men two alcoholic drinks.

• Vegetables and grains should fill up most of your plate.

• Avoid dishes with mayonnaise, sour cream and butter.

• Eat high fiber, low-fat dishes (think bean salads).

• Eat fresh fruit for dessert.

• Eat a piece of grilled lean meat, poultry or fish.

Also, the University of Arkansas http://www.arfamilies.org/news/diabetes/dining_out.pdf offers a great "cheat sheet" with key words for diabetic dining. This cheat sheet even discusses ethnic eating choices (Chinese, Mexican and Italian). The tip sheet offers "dining out --key words" for diabetics. For example, here is a sample of low-fat menu words:

• Baked

• Braised

• Broiled

• Poached

• Roasted

• Steamed

• Stir-fried

Finally, Saul stated, "Remember, dining out is also a social experience - concentrate on sharing time with family and friends."


O'Neil, C. Top tips for dining out | ajc.com. Atlanta News, Sports, Atlanta Weather, Business News | ajc.com . Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Dining Out With Diabetes | Joslin Diabetes Center. Home | Diabetes Research, Care, Education & Resources | Joslin Diabetes Center. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Dining Out for Diabetics: DiabetesAmerica. Diabetes Care – Diabetes Education - Diabetes Treatment - DiabetesAmerica. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

McCulloch, M., R.D., L.D. Tips for Dining Out with Diabetes. Diabetic Living. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Eating Out Tips for Diabetics — AARP VIVA. AARP - Health, Travel Deals, Baby Boomers, Election News, Over 50, Online Games, Retirement Plan. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Eating Out and Diabetes : Diabetic Gourmet Magazine - Dedicated to Diabetic Dining and Healthy Living. Diabetic Gourmet Magazine - Official Homepage. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from http://diabeticgourmet.com/Food_and_Dining/Eating_Out

Dining Out Tips - DiabetesCare.Net. HOME - DiabetesCare.Net. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Edited by Jody Smith
Reviewed on August 23, 2011
by Maryann Gromisch

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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