One of the most crucial factors in managing diabetes is sticking to an adequate meal plan. A strict diet can be tricky enough, but it can become even more challenging when dining out at a restaurant. If you reside in an independent senior living community and are living with diabetes, you can generally trust the dining menu to be diabetic-friendly. However, if you do want to go out, then follow this how-to guide for your next dinner date!
How to Time Dinner
When it comes to managing diabetes, timing is everything. It is important to eat regularly as not to have your blood sugar drop too low or rise too high. The best way to ensure you will dine on time is by making a reservation ahead of time. If you are eating out with a big group, ask for your order to come out first due to your diabetic needs as well as asking for a time estimate on when the food will be ready. If the wait is proving to be longer than anticipated, ask the waiter to bring out whole wheat bread or fruit while you wait.
How to Order
Living independently as a senior with diabetes means you are solely responsible for your health. When dining out, you need to be cautious of hidden sugars and fats in recipes. It is also critical to be aware of how your meal is going to be prepared. Follow these tips on ordering to help manage your restaurant experience more safely:
- Ask Questions – Don’t be afraid to inquire about diabetic-friendly options, recipes, and preparation methods.
- Request Preparation – Ask the waiter if a meal can be prepared in a healthier way if needed, i.e., asked for baked chicken instead of fried chicken.
- Swap Sides – Order steamed vegetables or a side salad with a light dressing instead of French fries.
- Watch Out for Carbs – Skip the bread or ask them to hold any unnecessary carbs that may throw off your blood sugar level.
- Skip the Sauce – Butter, sour cream, and other sauce ingredients can be loaded with calories and sugars so ask them to hold the sauce or at least put it on the side.
- Careful with Portions – Most restaurants serve more than one portion in a single entrée. To be safe, split your meal with a friend or get a to-go box for half of the entrée.
It is essential to monitor your blood sugar before, and if needed, during your meal to ensure you are not accidentally intaking more than you should be. Another item to be wary of is alcoholic beverages and other drinks besides water that may contain hidden sugars.
How to Choose
Just because you have diabetes does not mean you always have to eat bland food. However, being a senior could mean you need to be more careful when choosing menu items. Reader’s Digest reviews restaurant cuisine and the best menu items to order when living with diabetes. Please verify with your doctor any of the following menu items before consumption. Some of our favorite diabetic-friendly menu items to choose from include:
- Turkey Burger: Try ordering a turkey burger on a whole wheat bun with a side of steamed broccoli. You could also skip the bread entirely or request a lettuce wrap substitute. This is a popular American dining option and is usually a common item to come across.
- Salmon: A delicious seafood option – try ordering grilled or baked salmon with steamed spinach and green beans.
- Fajitas: If you are attending a Mexican-style restaurant, one of the safest options is ordering the fajitas and just eating the meat and vegetables (ordering whole wheat or corn tortillas is generally safe too).
Just be careful when choosing menu items, be sure to inquire about the preparation method and any unmentioned sauces. It is always a great idea to notify your waiter that you have diabetes, so they can help if they are knowledgeable enough to. However, it is up to you to eat healthy while dining out with diabetes.
If you are an active older adult and seeking a luxurious independent senior living community to be a part of, then contact us today!