Dining out is usually fun and relaxing, but it can get tricky for people with diabetes. The typical restaurant serves dishes loaded fat and carbohydrates, so whether you're enjoying vadas and dosas or a risotto at your favourite Italian cafe, avoiding meals high in calories and carbs can be challenging.
Does that mean you can't enjoy a nice meal with your friends? Of course it doesn't. The answer lies in making smart choices and introducing mineral-rich foods to your plate.
Sure, your diet is critical to managing your diabetes and plays a big role in your blood sugar levels after eating. But there's no reason you can't enjoy an evening out — provided you follow a few simple tips.
1. Plan Your Meal
Get a general idea of the foods available at the restaurant you'll be visiting. Check the menu online and select dishes that fit your nutritional chart. Create a meal that is low on carbs and fats to match your limits. Choose items with barley, nuts, protein, whole grains and high-fibre vegetables.
Decide what you will eat early on so it's easy to order. Sure, it seems like a task every time you want to dine out, but over time you'll get familiar with the types of food that fit your diet.
2. Drink Right
Water and unsweetened tea are your best bets at a restaurant. Sugar-laden beverages, such as juice and soda, can spike your blood sugar faster than most foods can. Some restaurants also offer free refills on soda, and top off your glass before you can ask them not to. And if it's in front of you, you're more likely to drink it.
What are your options? Go for unsweetened tea, milk, cinnamon water and flavoured green tea when dining out. Alcohol may seem unavoidable on certain occasions, so try to limit your intake and enjoy your drink on the rocks.
3. Skip the Bread Basket
Butter naan and roti are staples of Indian meals, whether it's tandoori chicken or shahi paneer, so it's easy to stuff yourself with a high dose of carbs. These can be obstacles to maintaining normal glucose levels.
To make it easy for yourself, stick to one serving of these carb-enriched items, eat more vegetables. Opting for brown rice is another good idea. Whatever your decision, while living with diabetes, avoid starting your meals with a high dose of carbohydrates.
4. Start with Soup or Salad
Your friends might gorge on french fries, pakoras or even aloo tikkis as starters. While you may have to steer clear of these, you still start with a pre-meal teaser. Just choose a broth-based soup loaded with vegetables, or order a salad and add your favourite dressing. Just don't overdo it on the dressing, or you'll have to count the calories at the end of the meal.
5. Make Smart Swaps
Many restaurants accommodate special requests. If you're at one that does, swap some items from the meal and add healthier options. To maintain normal glucose levels, swap items for a nutritious substitute, such as more vegetable toppings on pizza instead of cheese, brown bread for sandwiches, brown rice in place of bread, or a fruit smoothie without the added sugar. These simple adjustments will cut down the carbs and calories without compromising on flavour.
6. Bring Half Home
You might not be able to resist finishing a full plate of food if it's right in front. To avoid overeating, ask the server to box up half of your meal before bringing it to the table. This is a simple and convenient way of resisting the temptation to eat everything in front of you. If you want to avoid taking food home, split the entree with a friend. Checking out portion sizes at restaurants may also be a good idea, especially if it helps you plan your meal.
7. Learn to Say No — Politely
It's OK to enjoy a much-loved dish once in a while if you resist it the rest of the time. That resistance can be tricky, especially if you have a hard time saying no to friends who always want dessert or who implore you to just try a little bite of their decadent meal. Think of a polite response to such situations ahead of time, and stand firm. You'll soon be a pro at turning away temptation from the threshold.
While it's important to maintain normal glucose levels when you're dining out, it doesn't have to be a hard experience. Making smart choices and some simple changes in your eating habits will go a long way in making restaurant outings enjoyable.
Disclaimer: This publication/article/editorial is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.