November is American Diabetes Month. Nearly 26 million children and adults in America have diabetes. An additional 79 million are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This disease is taking a huge physical and financial toll on our country. Diabetes Month isn’t just about making people aware of the disease, but also about providing tips and education. Education is especially important when it comes to dining out.
We all struggle with eating out and staying healthy. It seems increasingly difficult to find foods that fit into a well-balanced diet at restaurants. Unless it says right on the menu, it’s hard to tell what sandwich has more calories and which one is better for you than another. Now imagine that you need to know exactly how many carbohydrates each meal has or it could have serious health complications. Eating out for people with diabetes is even more difficult because not only do they look for healthy options, but they also have to worry about balancing their carbohydrate intake with their insulin intake. Although more and more restaurants are putting nutrition facts on the menu, and have them readily available, there are some easy tips to remember to help ease the worry.
- Pay attention to portion sizes – if the meal comes on a giant platter, ask for a to-go box when your meal comes and put half of the meal into the to-go box. Another option is to share a large entrée with a friend. Just ask the waiter or waitress to split the meal when they bring it to you.
- Choose low fat options – foods that are baked, broiled, steamed or grilled usually imply that it is going to be low fat. If you are worried about extra carbohydrates, avoid foods that are breaded and fried, because this adds fat, calories and carbohydrates. Many restaurants are willing to substitute a grilled chicken breast for a breaded and deep friend one as well.
- Be sure to ask for what you want – it is OK to ask a lot of questions about the foods that you are ordering. Request less cheese or a low fat option. Some restaurants even have whole wheat or whole grain buns or bread on request as well.
- Use carbohydrate servings to estimate portions.
- Get nutrition facts from restaurants.
- Use The Calorie King book to help plan ahead.
If you would like more information regarding eating well with diabetes, join us this coming Tuesday, November 8 at the Panhandle Health District in Hayden for the Eating Well with Diabetes class. This FREE class runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and will include guest speaker Kathleen Thomas, co-founder of the Idaho Plate Method, a cooking demonstration by Bill Rutherford and Emily Crawford, as well as roundtable sessions discussing eating out with diabetes, sugar substitutes, whole grains and nutrition applications for smart phones.