A date with diabetes: Eating out when you have diabetes

  • By Team TDO

The moment someone is diagnosed with diabetes, first thing he/she is told by the doctor is to modify the diet. A big cut on calories, minimum fats, less carbohydrates and more fibre. Easier said than done! That little part of the tongue with taste buds – it influences all our food choices. Lifestyle diseases like hypertension, obesity, certain skin conditions, they all demand food restrictions. We know how important it is to watch the plate and have a balanced diet. But how often are we able to follow the rules of balanced diet?

It requires strong will power and control over desires. It is even difficult for the diabetic patients. The forbidden fruit is always more tempting than the one offered. With a thousand restrictions, all the prohibited items become the centre of cravings for the diabetic patients.

By 2030, there will be twice as many diabetics as today. A well-planned diet is an effective way to delay the onset and reduce the complications.
Eating out always means a truckload of unnecessary calories, rich food, extra oil, more sugar and less nutrition. So, what should the diabetic patients do? Does life stop at diabetes? Does it mean no more dining at restaurants, or street-side snacks, or time out with friends and family over a Sunday brunch?

No. Diabetic diet does not mean you have to lead a dreary and deprived life. The trick here is moderation and balance.

Diabetes is not an end to eating out. With correct choices and a little control, diabetic patients can also enjoy dining in restaurants.

Here are some tips to help you eat out happily even with diabetes:

  1. Frequency: Once in a while, eating out is allowed. However, if you want to indulge on all weekends, holidays, special occasions, then you are doomed. Set a routine and enjoy home-cooked meal on ordinary days. Fix a limit to eating out – one meal a week, or once every alternate weekend. Frequency will also be influenced by your choice of food. If you are indulging in a slice of pizza or pani puri, then probably every week is okay. However, if you are indulging in a full meal, then it is best to restrict it to once in a fortnight.
  2. Moderation: Portions should be small. What happens in temptation is we tend to eat fast and we want to finish everything on the table. Eat slow, chew well and relish every bite. Take small servings and try to have more variety with less quantity. This will satisfy your desires and also keep calories in control.
  3. Menu scanner: We often have fixed dishes in mind when we go out and don’t read the menu carefully. Scan the menu and look for items that are tempting but may still be relatively healthy. This will also help you decide on specific dining places. You will notice some restaurants have really greasy food and some are better off. Forget the first kind and choose the latter.
  4. Let the moment pass: When passing by your favorite snack joint, you may have a strong urge to stop and have just a ‘little bit’ of this or that. Don’t fight the urge, fighting is difficult. Be still, think of something else and wait. Give it ten-fifteen minutes and tell yourself that if I continue to have this strong urge even after fifteen minutes, then I will give in and snack here. Be assured, nine out of ten times good sense shall prevail and you wouldn’t drool as much. It works, try it!
  5. Balance: Okay, so you waited for fifteen minutes but the urge did not go away. You got a little weak, control slipped and you ate out. What now?Guilt is fine. But how will it help you? Make amends now. Have a bowl full of salad for dinner that day. Or, cancel the planned dinner this weekend. Balance it out. Not just after consuming, but even with planned outings. When you know that there is a party tonight, eat light that afternoon. Before leaving for the party, have some salad or buttermilk and fill your stomach. You will feel less hungry and the temptations won’t be as strong.
  6. Diabetic dishes: The best part about diabetes is it is common and controllable. So common that exclusive diabetic food items are now available in the market. They taste good and harm much less. Pick those over the regular ones whenever you can.
  7. Discipline: Make discipline a way of life. This is the toughest thing to do. But once the peak is conquered, then you are a winner for life. With time, you will notice temptation stops overpowering you. Self control doesn’t seem as hard and healthy food becomes the preference of taste buds.

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