Tips for Eating Out With Diabetes

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Tips for Eating Out With Diabetes

By Hedy Marks, MPH

The key to eating out with type 2 diabetes is knowing what to order and what not to order — but this can be tricky if you don’t understand how a dish is prepared or the description is in another language. Try these tips to help you navigate restaurant menus.

The Diabetes Menu: Decoding the Dishes

If a dish has any of the following words in its name, chances are it’s loaded with fat and calories. Cross it off your diabetes diet list — either choose a different dish or ask your server if the main ingredient, like a fish filet or chicken breast, can be prepared in a more healthful way.

Au gratin

Dishes such as potatoes au gratin are covered with breadcrumbs, butter, and cheese.


A dish like creamed spinach means it’s blended with cream and butter, and often lots of both.


This type of soup often made with lobster, crab, or a vegetable such as a tomato also uses the cream as one of its main ingredients, which adds a large amount of saturated fat.

Alfredo sauce

Typically topping pasta, this sauce is made of butter and cheese.

Hollandaise sauce

Nearly pure saturated fat and cholesterol — its primary ingredients are egg yolks and butter — hollandaise is often ladled on eggs (eggs Benedict), vegetables such as asparagus, or fish.

Fried, deep-fried, or breaded

Foods in these dishes are often coated with breadcrumbs or a batter that will typically soak up a lot of the oil they’re cooked in, adding fat and calories.

Crème Fraiche

This tangy, thick cream has at least 30 percent butterfat.


Even if the word “casserole” follows a healthy vegetable, as in broccoli casserole or squash casserole, that vegetable could be hidden under breadcrumbs, butter, and cheese. Ask for details before ordering.


As a hard cheese, parmesan is a better choice than triple-cream varieties, but when it’s used to describe a cooking style, such as chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan, those good-for-you ingredients are frequently dipped in a heavy parmesan-and-bread crumb coating, fried, and possibly layered with full-fat mozzarella cheese.


This Japanese favorite may start with healthy vegetables, but they’re then dipped in batter and fried in a lot of oil.

Sherbets and sorbets

These refreshing after-dinner treats are loaded with sugar, although they don’t have the cream found in ice cream, mousses, puddings, and custard desserts.

The Diabetes Menu: Making Healthy Choices

So what can you eat? Here are tips to keep your diabetes diet on track:
  • Choose foods that are grilled, broiled, or baked, instead of fried.
  • Steamed is a better choice than sautéed and creamed. Foods that are sautéed are cooked in either oil or butter. While a small amount of these fats may be okay, it is hard to control how much is being used in a restaurant dish.
  • Salads are a good choice but always ask for dressing on the side. And be careful of the extra toppings — stay away from bacon bits and always hold the cheese.
  • Sugar-free ice cream or yogurt in moderation is okay, and a better choice than a sugary frozen dessert. When available, choose fresh fruit.

Keep in mind that most restaurants will make accommodations for special diets. To make smart choices, follow these guidelines:

Ask questions

If you are not sure how something is prepared, ask your server to describe the dish for you. Some restaurants make available nutritional information for their menu items.

Make substitutions

Don’t be afraid to request that changes be made to a dish that otherwise would be unhealthy for you to eat. For example, ask your server to hold the cheese, substitute the French fries with vegetables, and have fried fish prepared baked or broiled instead.

Hold the sauce

Request any sauces, gravies, salad dressings, and toppings, like butter or sour cream, to be put on the side so that you can control how much you use or eliminate them altogether.

Practice portion control

One of the biggest challenges to eating out is not overeating. Restaurants typically serve big portions. Do not order any dish with a description that includes jumbo, giant, deluxe, or supersized.

Eating out is one of life’s pleasures

Don’t deny yourself just because you have diabetes. By knowing what foods to avoid, you can eat delicious meals and maintain your diabetes diet plan.

Herbal Guide Staff

The Complete Guide to Natural Healing believes that food, vitamins, supplements, and alternative medicine can be your best medicine. Our staff will show you the truth about health and wellness, so you can help your family and closest friends get even healthier. You’ll learn exactly what you should do and how to eat to get healthy, exercise to get your leanest, healthiest body and how to take control of your family’s health, using natural remedies as medicine.



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