How to eat healthy away from home if you have diabetes

For people with diabetes, eating out — whether at a restaurant, a social function, or a friend's home — can be a challenge. Portions can be hefty and packed with calories and saturated fat. When you eat out, it may help to follow these simple guidelines:

  • Ask how entrées are prepared, and avoid fried foods or dishes served in heavy sauces or gravies.
  • Choose skinless chicken, fish, or lean meat that's broiled, poached, baked, or grilled.
  • Get the server's advice to help you select healthy, low-fat dishes. Restaurants are used to dealing with special diets.
  • Don't feel obliged to clean your plate. Eat a reasonable portion, and take the remainder home.
  • Choose steamed vegetables and salads to accompany your meals. Request low-calorie dressings and toppings, and if they're not available, ask for all dressings, butter, and sauces to be served on the side so you can use them sparingly.
  • If you take insulin and you know your meal will be delayed, time your injection appropriately. You may need to eat a roll or piece of fruit to tide you over.
  • If you're craving dessert, have some — but split it with someone else.

For more information on the essentials for a healthy diet and managing type 2 diabetes, buy Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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