Dining Out With Diabetes – Share with us your local favorites

Dining it or ordering pick-up – watching your blood sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up eating out. Most restaurants, even fast-food places and chain restaurants that are well-known for serving high-calorie foods, offer menu items that can fit into a low-sugar/low-carb diet. The trick is to plan ahead, do a bit of research, and understand what options will work for you.

If you know ahead of time where you’re going, take a few minutes to check out the menu online. Most restaurants provide nutrition information on their websites. Evaluate the offerings and decide what to order beforehand so you won’t feel pressured to make a (potentially unhealthy) choice on the spot.

Choose lean meats or fish with lots of veggies, especially if they are described as grilled, steamed, poached, braised or broiled. Avoid anything with the words breaded, crusted, crispy or fried. And be careful about dressings, condiments and sauces — many are loaded with sugar. Words like BBQ, glazed, sticky, honey or teriyaki usually mean trouble. When possible, ask for them to be served on the side. And speaking of sides, go with a side salad or double order of vegetables in place of starchy potatoes or noodles. And of course, keep an eye on portions.

Some places, such as Chipotle, Panera Bread, Applebee’s, and many fast-food chains, offer customizable nutrition calculators on their websites. These allow you to add or remove ingredients to and from menu items, and then see how the calorie, carb, protein and sodium amounts change.

Chipotle: http://chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator

Panera Bread: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html/

Applebee’s: https://www.applebees.com/en/nutrition/calculator

Ihop: https://www.ihop.com/en/nutrition/calculator

Perkins http://nc.perkinsrestaurants.com/PerkinsNC/

If you’re on the fly or ordering from an unfamiliar restaurant, ask if they have a light menu. Many chain restaurants can provide low-carb option menus upon request, which these often provide nutritional information as well. And don’t be shy about asking for substitutions. In most cases, if you see an ingredient on a menu, you can ask for it to be added or swapped into your meal.

We also recognize there are many fantastic local businesses who provide diabetic-friendly meals or healthier, clean options. We’d love to hear from you – tag @Lifesprk  with the hashtag #NoSugarMoreSpark and share with our clients and families your healthy versions during our diabetes campaign. Visit https://diabetes.lifesprk.com/ to learn more.

Eat On!