Tips for Dining Out
Just because you're on a diabetes diet doesn't mean you have to give up eating out. Know what menu items to select and important questions to ask your server.

Focus on What You Can Eat

  • Pretend you're eating your diabetic diet at home. Choose foods you'd normally prepare for yourself. If the restaurant's meal size is larger than you should eat, package the extra food before you eat so you don't eat too much.

  • Look or ask for simple preparations. Choose grilled or broiled poultry, fish and meat, and grilled, steamed, boiled, stewed or raw vegetables. Ask your server to leave off creamy or salty sauces. Avoid creamy salad dressings: ask for vinegar- or lemon-based low-fat dressings--on the side. Even low-fat dressings can have a lot of calories. If your diet requires low salt, request that your meal be prepared without salt. (Some restaurants load already-prepared sauces and soups with salt--ask how salty these items are before ordering and send them back they're too salty.)

  • Be careful with carbs. Choose whole-grain breads and pasta when available. Ask for diet margarine or pure fruit (no sugar added) jellies for your bread instead of butter. Potatoes should be baked, boiled, or steamed. Ask that no butter or sauces be added to rice or noodles.

  • Order sugar-free beverages such as fruit juices and soda, and low-fat, low-sugar or sugar-free deserts such as fruit cups and low-fat yogurt.

  • Bring your exchange list. It tells you what foods have similar amounts of carbs, protein, fat and calories and helps you substitute while still adhering to your dietary goals.

  • Don't be shy. Ask if soups or sauces include cream. If the server isn't sure, ask the server to ask the chef. Ditto when you're concerned about what other ingredients may be in the food.

  • Ask for healthy substitutions (for example, a double serving of veggies) in place of fried sides like French fries.

  • Plan ahead. If you take diabetes pills or insulin shots time your meal accordingly. Phone the restaurant to request a specially-prepared meal in advance.