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How can I still eat out now that I have diabetes?

Dining out can be an enjoyable experience for people with diabetes with a little advance planning. Concentrate on the three Ps: planning, portions and preparation.

Many restaurants publish their menus online. Take a look at the menu and decide before you go what you are going to have. This can help avoid overeating and assist you in figuring out the carbohydrate and fat content of the meal in advance if you are dosing insulin to your food intake.

As for portions, splitting a meal with a friend or having the server wrap half of the meal before it comes to the table can help you stick to your meal plan while taking care of tomorrow's lunch.

Finally, remember that you are in charge. If the menu doesn't explain how a dish is prepared, ask. Most restaurants are happy to substitute something else that is already on the menu, such as another vegetable in place of rice.

Eating out is a big part of today’s lifestyle—and there is no reason why you should avoid restaurants because you have diabetes. However, it is important to know what you’re eating and to make healthy choices from the menu.

Pick a restaurant with a variety of choices to increase your chances of finding the foods you want. When you eat out, order only what you need and want. Know how to make changes in your meal plan in case the restaurant doesn't have just what you want.

Don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients or the serving size of dishes. Ask if no or less butter can be used in preparing your meal. Some restaurants will better meet your special needs if you phone ahead. When you make the reservation, ask if your food can be prepared with vegetable oil, low-fat margarine, little salt and no extra sauce or butter, and broiled instead of fried. Or ask to see a copy of the menu in advance so that you know which items would work well with your meal plan.

If you take diabetes pills or insulin shots, it pays to think about when you'll eat as well as what you'll eat. You can avoid problems when eating out by planning ahead. If you're eating out with others, ask them to eat at your usual time. Have your reservations and be on time. Avoid the times when the restaurant is busiest so you won't have to wait.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.