Whether you're on a dinner date or spending a night out with friends, type 2 diabetes doesn't need to intrude like an unwanted guest. You can eat, drink, and dance the night away, as long as you stay within healthy limits.
"It's so important to enjoy life and not let diabetes drag you down," says Janis Roszler, RD, author of Diabetes on Your Own Terms.
If you have diabetes, you already know the drill. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat can send your blood sugar skyrocketing -- or make it plummet. For better or worse, "diet and diabetes" go together like salt and pepper.
So if you need a little motivation to eat better - and who doesn't? - consider this: with diabetes, you're at high risk of the nerve pain and damage called diabetic neuropathy. What can start as a little tingling or numbness in your feet can turn into major problems...
Focus on balance, and let a relaxed attitude guide your evenings out as well. If you're at ease with managing diabetes, your companions will be, too -- even if you need to test your blood sugar before a meal.
"The people who have the most success are the ones who don't make a big deal about it and don't try to hide it," Roszler says.
Avoid the mistake of starving yourself during the day so you can eat more on a dinner date. Don't go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating, and keep snack food handy in your purse or car, she suggests.
Practice portion control at restaurants. Fill half of a standard 9-inch dinner plate with non-starchy vegetables or salad. Your protein should fit in one-quarter of the plate, and the other quarter is for carbohydrates like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. If you want some cake or other dessert later, eat less of the carbohydrates.
"In 99% of restaurants, you can choose to eat healthfully," says Hope Warshaw, RD, author of Eat Out, Eat Well. If portion sizes at your favorite dining spot are huge, for example, she suggests you share an entrée with a dinner companion. Don't shy away from asking for substitute foods or accommodations.
What About Adult Beverages?
Having type 2 diabetes doesn't mean you can't tip a celebratory glass of champagne or have some wine with dinner. To avoid blood sugar spikes and dips:
Have some food with your alcohol. Skip mixers or sweet wine. Many can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Check your blood sugar to see how the alcohol affects you. Keep in mind that it can lower your levels as long as 24 hours later.
Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two a day for men. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of vodka, whiskey, or other distilled spirits.
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