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Tips for Dining Out With Diabetes

Two of the best tips you can use at restaurants are to watch the salt and cut the portions.

Experts recommend that people with diabetes get only 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. That's less than a teaspoon.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes

Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.  "Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."

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These course-by-course tips will help:

Appetizers

  • Choose fresh fruit or vegetables.
  • Avoid soups and broths.
  • Stay away from bread and rolls with salty, buttery crusts.

Salads

  • Select fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid pickles, canned or marinated vegetables, cured meats, seasoned croutons, cheeses, and salted seeds.
  • Order salad dressings on the side, and use small amounts of them.

Main courses

  • Choose plain foods including broiled, grilled, or roasted meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish.
  • Select plain vegetables, potatoes, and noodles.
  • Ask your server about the low-salt menu choices, and ask how the food is prepared.
  • Ask for food to be cooked without salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Avoid restaurants that do not allow for special food preparation (such as buffet-style restaurants and diners).
  • Avoid casseroles, mixed dishes, gravies, and sauces.
  • At fast-food restaurants, skip the special sauces, condiments, and cheese.
  • Avoid salted condiments and garnishes such as olives and pickles.

Desserts

  • Choose fresh fruits, ices, sherbet, gelatin, and plain cakes.

Controlling Portion Size at Restaurants

Servings at many restaurants are often big enough to provide lunch for 2 days. When eating out:

  • Ask for half or smaller portions.
  • Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a doggie bag right away.
  • If you have dessert, share.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 29, 2013
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