The Secret to Dining Out with Prediabetes
If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit passive when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant.
If the waiter says the Kung Pao chicken comes with white rice, I order white rice. If the fast food menu says a burger comes with fries and a soft drink, I order fries and a soft drink. If a waiter tells me that the house salad is paired with chocolate covered-corn dogs, I’ll probably ask for mustard and relish and not think twice about it.
Not too long ago I found out via a free blood test that my hemoglobin A1c score was 5.2—not dangerously high, but definitely trending in the wrong direction. Since I eat out a lot, I wanted to know how I could make better choices.
Here’s the secret:
To eat well when dining out, engage your waiter, ignore the menu, and be assertive when ordering.[fbaside]To eat well when dining out, engage your waiter, ignore the menu, and be assertive when ordering.[/fbaside]
To help me and others like you become more assertive with our dining choices, the health coaches and nutrition-minded chefs at PreDiabetes Centers offer these tips:
1. Ask the waiter what’s healthy on the menu. This is the easiest and most direct way to choose Prediabetes-friendly foods.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications or substitutions. Ask your waiter for whole grain or whole wheat breads instead of nutrient-deficient white breads. Ask for brown rice instead of white. Corn tortillas instead of flour. An extra vegetable instead of mashed potatoes. If you can think of a healthier alternative, ask for it!
3. Refuse the free bread or appetizers that come before your meal. The waiter will not be offended and you’ll avoid foods that quickly break down into sugar in your blood.
4. Split your meal or order appetizer portions. I’ve seen some menus that warn sternly against splitting meals, but in this instance, the customer is always right: Restaurant portions are usually twice the size of standard portions—extra food you don’t need.
5. Order sauces on the side. Those corn dogs don’t need all that chocolate. They can be served with a ramekin of chocolate sauce on the side. This lets you take what you need and nothing more. Editor’s note: Nobody needs chocolate with corn dogs. EVER.
6. Request that grilled or broiled items be prepared dry or with olive oil. They’re usually made with butter and unhealthy oil. This is another modification, but not one that’s easy to see.
7. Ask the waiter to take away your plate as soon as you’re full. Even if you have to grab them by the arm to get their attention, you’ll save yourself from overeating and packing on extra calories.
Again, if you’re like me, you may feel a bit awkward and decide against asking your waiter for other choices. You may even feel like you’re making a fuss.
Give it a try anyway! Remember that there is nothing wrong with being assertive, especially if it means the difference between becoming a diabetic and living a healthy, diabetes-free life.