After your type 2 diabetes diagnosis, your diet suddenly comes into focus. Be it tempting desserts or finger-licking fried chicken, you need to say goodbye to all the unhealthy foods. It’s all about home-cooked foods. But there are times when you feel like dining out, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Living with diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’t eat out anymore. You just have to be more careful about your diabetes diet.
Health Shots consulted Dr D P Singh, Consultant Internal Medicine, Regency Superspeciality Hospital, Lucknow, to know about eating out with diabetes.
Dining out should not become your habit. The frequency of eating out for diabetics can vary depending on your overall health, diabetes management goals and the choices available at the restaurant. However, it is generally recommended to limit eating out and prioritise preparing meals at home, says Dr Singh. But once in a while you can eat out and enjoy meals. Here’s what to keep in mind while eating out if you have diabetes:
Diabetics should pay attention to portion sizes while eating out. Restaurants often serve large portions, which can lead to overeating and spike in blood sugar levels. It’s advisable to ask for smaller portions, share meals or pack half of the meal for later.
Go for meals that include whole and unprocessed foods. Focus on lean protein sources such as grilled chicken or fish, vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, and fruits. Avoid dishes that are fried or covered in heavy sauces.
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and pasta can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, says the expert. Choose complex carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index like whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. So, whenever you go out, request for whole grain options.
Many restaurant meals, especially desserts and sweetened beverages, contain high amounts of added sugars. These can lead to blood sugar imbalances. Avoid sugary drinks and desserts, and if you have a craving, consider sharing a small portion. After all, what are family and friends for?
While healthy fats are essential, some restaurant dishes might contain excessive amounts of unhealthy fats such as trans fats or saturated fats. These fats can negatively impact heart health. Choose dishes that are prepared with healthier cooking methods such as grilling, steaming or baking, and choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil or avocado instead of unhealthy fats like butter or hydrogenated oils.
A pizza is cheesy and loaded with your choice of vegetables and meat. A few slices of pizza can even make someone’s day! But if you have diabetes, make sure that when you choose pizza or fast food options, be mindful of certain ingredients. Here are some ingredients to consider skipping or limiting:
Opt for whole grain crusts or bread when possible. Avoid crusts that are made from refined flour, as they can quickly raise blood sugar levels.
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While cheese can be a source of protein, it is also high in saturated fats and calories. Limit the amount of cheese on pizzas or opt for healthier toppings like vegetables and lean meats instead, suggests Dr Singh.
Some pizza and fast food sauces might contain added sugars. Choose options with minimal or no added sugar, and be cautious of sweet toppings like sugary barbecue sauce or sweetened dressings.
Fast food items often catch our eyes when we eat out. They are yummy, but also high in unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. So, they should generally be avoided or consumed in moderation by diabetics. That means watch how much fried chicken or chicken nuggets, French fries or onion rings, you are having.