Before You Go
1. Splurge on an upscale restaurant. They tend to serve smaller portions of top quality foods and to feature local, in-season ingredients. Then, check out the lower-calorie, “special-diet” selections.
2. Dine with other health-conscious people. Research shows that diners tend to mimic the people around them. So if your friends order grilled, baked, or broiled fish and salad with dressing on the side, you’re more likely to do the same. (Psst: Sample their entrees. The variety will make you feel as if you’ve indulged, and you’ll get an idea of what to order next time.)
3. Have a small snack at home an hour before your dinner reservation, if you’ll be eating later than usual. Munching on fruit, low-fat cheese, or celery and carrots will curb your appetite and keep you wolfing down complimentary bread or tortilla chips while waiting to be served.
4. Wear those tight-fitting pants or that fancy blouse. This can help you avoid gorging or ruining your best clothes with greasy ribs or heavily sauced entrees.
At the Table
5. After being seated, take a quick stroll around the room. Before ordering, excuse yourself to wash your hands; then, on your way to the restroom, check out other diners; dishes for portion sizes, heavy sauces, etc. You’ll have a better idea of what to order.
6. Start with a salad or clear soup. Either one is likely to have ample of veggies and fiber, and be filling enough to take the edge off your hunger.
7. Drink water or no-calorie tea with your meal. Have a glass of wine or beer only if your blood sugar typically falls within your target range. If your levels tend to be more erratic, avoid alcohol and the possible hypoglycemia that can go with it.
8. Order smart. Choose entrees that are grilled, baked, or broiled; ask for veggies that are steamed, not sautéed; request all sauces and gravies to be served on the side; avoid dishes described as “crispy, hand-battered, cheesy” or “au gratin, creamy and golden.”
9. Order one dessert for the table. Asking for extra spoons and forks will save on extra carbs and calories!
10. Better yet, why not have dessert on the run? Suggest a quick walk around the mall or to the nearest place that serves frozen yogurt and share some light exercise and gossip on the way.
11. Have your coffee black or with skim milk. Forget the frothy, foamy, frappe versions with added sugar, whipped cream and chocolate shaving–we call those “desserts.”
12. Check your blood sugar two hours after your meal. If it’s within your target range, you’ll know you can order the same thing when you go back to that restaurant. If not, you can make adjustments next time.
And One Thing to Never Do
13. Never save up calories or skimp on meals throughout the day for a big dinner out. With diabetes, it’s important to eat the same amounts of food at about the same times each day to maintain steady blood-sugar levels.
Healthy Cooking February/March 2011