Who doesn’t love a night off from cooking? There’s no need to feel wary of restaurants just because you have diabetes. Instead of letting your inhibitions go and giving in to your cravings, prepare yourself by using these easy and helpful suggestions.
Sneak an Advance Peek at the Menu
The best way not to let the atmosphere dissolve your determination to eat well is to do a little reconnaissance work before you even leave the house. Look online for the menus of chain and some upper-tier restaurants; some chains even post the nutritional information of their meals. Look for options that fit into your eating plan-and identify those that you promise yourself you’ll stay away from.
Scan the menu for a “special diet” section. Many people these days are trying to make healthy choices when they dine out, and restaurants are taking notice. Most eateries have a list of no-frills healthy dishes on their menus; most meats are baked or braised, and vegetables are usually steamed. If you’re really counting calories and fat grams, head straight for this section of the menu.
Never “Save Up” Calories
If you’re tempted to skimp on breakfast or lunch so you can indulge in a bigger dinner, resist. For anyone with diabetes, it’s important to eat your usual amounts of food at about the same time of day every day to help ensure steady blood sugar. And skipping lunch before a big dinner out could very well backfire-you’ll find it nearly impossible to resist the bread on the table when you walk in, and defenses against fatty, high-calorie main dishes will be down.
Cut Hunger Before the Restaurant
Have a healthy snack at home an hour before your restaurant reservation. Munch on a small piece of fruit and an ounce of low-fat string cheese, or a couple of pieces of celery slathered with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter. Not only will a snack curb your appetite, but the feeling of having just eaten will keep you from mindlessly picking at the complimentary bread or tortilla chips.
Before You Go Out, Prepare a Healthy, Homemade Dessert
Prepare a light berry crumble, a sugar-free gelatin with fresh fruit, or a baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar substitute. Later, when you’re at the restaurant and you’re handed the dessert menu-or even worse, when a waiter brings over a tray filled with fatty, sugary confections-you’ll remember that you have a treat waiting for you at home.
Wear a Fancy Blouse or Close-Fitting Pants
Whether you dine at a four-star eatery or a diner, what you wear can affect what you order. With tight pants tugging at your tummy, you literally won’t have room to gorge on a big dinner. And chances are, if you are wearing your favorite blouse, you’ll be afraid of ruining it, and you’ll shy away from heavily sauced or oily entrées. The worst thing to wear? Stretchy or elastic-waist pants with room for expansion.
In the Parking Lot, Pop a Piece of Gum in Your Mouth
Just as brushing your teeth early in the evening keeps you from late-night snacking, popping a fresh piece of mint chewing gum just before you go into the restaurant will help you pass up sugary sodas and other pre-dinner temptations. Only after the waiter takes your order should you discreetly toss out the gum; that still gives you at least 15 minutes or so for your mouth to return to normal and your dinner entrée to taste as enjoyable as you had hoped.
Using these simple tips, you can allow yourself to reclaim the restaurant experience while maintaining your commitment to a healthy lifestyle that includes controlling your diabetes.
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