Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Dine Out, Dine Healthy
Choose healthy options when eating out
Like most Canadians, people who have diabetes enjoy dining out as one of life's little pleasures. According to research, Canadians eat out one out of every 10 meals. We may stop for a coffee on the way to work, go for dinner to celebrate an anniversary, or grab lunch with co-workers.
Restaurant meals may seem like a treat, but they are almost always higher in fat, sugar, salt and calories than meals made at home. With super-sized entrees and unlimited baskets of bread, restaurant dining can quickly become a diabetes dilemma. However, you can avoid the excess and savour the enjoyment of dining out. Read on for some simple steps and tips.
Golden rules to order by
For a healthy dining experience, it is vital to know as much as possible about the food you are ordering. The following key strategies can help you select the healthiest options and avoid disappointment when your meal arrives at your table.
- Order dressings, sauces and gravies on the side.
- To save on calories, order a cup instead of a bowl of soup. Choose broth-based soup instead of cream soup.
- Start with a salad or vegetable juice, and hold the bread.
- Undress your salad. Salad can be a healthy food choice, but you need to think about the contents. If the salad you order is loaded with full-fat dressing, croutons, bacon bits and grated cheese, it can contain more calories than a burger and fries! Ask for fat-free dressing, fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Skip the croutons and choose a grating of flavourful cheese like Parmesan, where a small amount goes a long way in flavour.
- Choose salads made from darker greens like spinach or romaine, rather than less nutritious iceberg lettuce. Add beans, lean grilled chicken, or fish if you want to make your salad your main meal.
- Deep-fried is dangerous. Deep-fried options, such as doughnuts, fries, onion rings, nachos, chicken nuggets or strips, and breaded fish, are loaded with calories and fat. This fat often includes heart-unhealthy trans fats.
- Ask your server questions about how your entrée will be prepared. If your food will be made with butter, coated in oil, or topped with high fat sour cream or cheese, you could make a substitution. Many restaurants will allow you to select a tossed salad, broth-based soup, baked undressed potato, or rice instead of fries.
- Seek out the words baked, poached, grilled, stir-fried, roasted, sautéed or steamed instead of basted, breaded, buttered, creamed or deep-fried.
- Ask your server to split the portion to take home before it is even delivered to your table, or share your meal with your dining companion.
- Relax and enjoy – take time to savour your meal. Chewing slowly allows time for your brain to signal fullness and prevents eating too much.
- Drink plenty of water. Quenching your thirst fills you up calorie-free.
- Do your homework. Go on-line to explore the restaurant's website ahead of your visit and seek out healthier options in advance.
- Look for ways to boost your fibre intake. Many restaurants now offer whole wheat and whole grain buns, tortilla wraps, pasta and pizza crust.
- Have your dessert and eat it too! Sometimes the hardest thing to turn down is dessert after a delicious meal. Typically, desserts are loaded with calories from sugar and fat. Try a scoop of sherbet, gelato or sorbet. Fresh cut fruits or berries are another great option to savour. If you just cannot pass on a decadent dessert like cheesecake or pie, have a few bites and pass it on to your dining companions to finish the rest.
Master menus from around the world
If you enjoy dining out, you likely enjoy the unique flavours that ethnic cuisines offer. Just reading the unfamiliar words on the menu can be challenging, let alone seeking out the healthiest ethnic nosh. Simplify your selection dilemma with these easy ideas for ethnic dining the healthy way.
Choose steamed veggie dishes and soups. Limit deep-fried chicken balls, spring rolls, fried rice and noodles.
Tip: Ask your server to substitute extra veggies for a third of your noodles or rice.
: Choose sushi, brown rice, cucumber salad or edamame beans. Limit tempura and other deep-fried items.
Tip: Start your meal with green tea, which is rich in antioxidants.
Choose soft tacos, chicken fajitas and refried beans. Limit hard taco shells, nachos, and items covered in cheese sauce.
Tip: Ask for sour cream and guacamole on the side, or substitute with extra tomato salsa.
Choose lentil dishes (dal), tandoori and vegetable curries. Limit samosas, butter chicken and naan bread.
Tip: Try legume-based curries and steamed rice in place of papadums or naan.
Choose vegetable rice-paper salad rolls, kabobs, satays and clear soups. Limit deep-fried spring rolls, coconut milk-based entrees and soups, and fried rice.
Tip: Use peanut sauces sparingly and order steamed rice instead of coconut rice.
Choose tomato-based sauces (marinara or marsala) and minestrone soup. Limit Alfredo, cream or cheese sauces, and Parmigiano and garlic cheese bread.
Tip: Ask for half portions or take some pasta home with you.
Navigate the bottomless buffet
Buffets can be an over-eating pitfall at the best of times. They may tempt you to eat too much if you feel the need to get your money's worth. For occasional buffet dining, use these suggestions to safeguard your intake.
- Think of the buffet table as a menu. Scan it before filling your plate and only choose items you know you will enjoy. Do not feel compelled to try everything just because it is there.
- Load up on fresh vegetable sticks, fruits, and salads with low-fat dressings. Avoid creamy mayonnaise-based dips and dressings.
- Seek out baked or broiled meats and steamed vegetables.
- Use your hands to gauge your portions. You always have your hands with you, so why not use them to help you select healthy portion size? To measure, use:
- your palm for a healthy serving of protein (chicken breast or lean steak)
- two open hands for your vegetables
- a fist for your grains or starch (baked potato, serving of pasta or rice).
- Limit yourself to only one trip to the buffet table and do your best to resist the temptation to go for seconds. If you feel the need to re-load your plate, wait at least 20 minutes to be sure you are actually still hungry before going back for more.
Fast food dining survival tips
Making healthier choices at fast food restaurants is easier if you prepare ahead by checking on-line nutrition guides for the nutritional content of meals. These free guides can help you evaluate your options and eliminate temptation. Follow some simple rules to help make your fast food dining experience healthier.
- Portion control is critical. Many fast food restaurants serve enough food in one portion to make up several meals. Instead, try ordering a kid's meal with a side salad.
- Choose a salad instead of fries. Use as little of the dressing package as possible or ask for a low-calorie version. Other options include a plain undressed baked potato or fresh apple slices.
- Try a grilled version of a chicken sandwich instead of the classic deep-fried variety.
- Watch out for high calorie drinks. It is easy to consume several hundred unwanted calories from beverages. One can of regular pop has 150 calories and a whopping ten teaspoons of sugar. Order milk, water or diet pop instead of regular pop.
- Try a yogurt and fruit parfait instead a muffin.
- Break your breakfast sandwich habit. Have an English muffin instead of a breakfast sandwich or bagel slathered in cream cheese.
Skip the orange juice and save calories. Pure 100 per cent fruit juice packs a high calorie and sugar punch in even a small serving. Choose fresh fruit instead, as it is higher in nutrients and contains fibre that helps you feel full longer and maintain stable blood glucose.
- Enjoy a latte, but make it non-fat and sugar-free. Be aware that calories from drinks can expand your waistline. Ask for a small, non-fat version of your drink, inquire about sugar-free syrup options, and skip the whipped cream.
- Love your sub sandwich? Go for the compact six-inch version instead of the 12-inch SUV variety. Skip the mayo and high-fat processed meats (like salami and pepperoni). Choose chicken, turkey breast or the vegetarian option for even fewer calories. For added fibre and nutrition, ask for whole wheat or whole grain bread, and pile on peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
- Enjoy your pizza as long as it is not a 'meat lovers' variety. If you love thick crust, pan style pizza, heavy on meat toppings like pepperoni or Italian sausage, a couple of slices can easily put you over the top of your calorie budget. Transform your pizza into a low-calorie healthy option by selecting thin crust with half the cheese and double the vegetables. Remember to ask for whole wheat or whole grain crust.
Dining out is a treat. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself two or three times a month, depending on the restaurants you visit. Full-serve restaurants usually have healthier choices than fast food places, though some fast food chains are adding healthier options. Set a nutrition goal and aim to limit your restaurant dining to once a week. The rest of the time, prepare your meals at home and ensure they are healthy.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2018, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [DI_MDb12]