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Diabetes Health Center

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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

6 Lifestyle Changes to Help Control Your Diabetes

Working closely with your doctor, you can help manage your diabetes by focusing on six key changes in your daily life. 1. Eat healthy. Eating well is crucial when you have diabetes, because what you eat affects your blood sugar. No foods are strictly off-limits. Focus on eating only as much as your body needs. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose nonfat dairy and lean meats. Limit foods that are high in sugar and fat. Remember that carbohydrates turn into sugar, so watch...

Read the 6 Lifestyle Changes to Help Control Your Diabetes article > >

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 February 01, 2016

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