Dining Out or Ordering In Choices by Caron Golden

Oh, the pleasures of having a meal in your favorite restaurant! Whether it’s your go-to fast casual eatery or a romantic white linen spot, dining out can be the highlight of our week—and so can ordering in.

But when you have diabetes and may also be trying to lose weight, it can be hugely stressful instead—especially if you’re new to figuring your way around a menu when restrictions are on your mind. Selecting a restaurant you know has healthy options is the best solution, but that’s not always possible when others have input. 

Dining Out or Ordering In Choices
Strategies to Eat Out Like a Pro
Rather than blowing your meal plan and regretting it later, how about trying some of these strategies?
Go to restaurant outings “gently hungry” instead of overly hungry, suggested  Janice Baker, RDN, CDCES. “Over restricting during the day or preceding a restaurant or party event can biologically lead to unintentional overeating,” she explained. “This is BIOLOGY, not willpower.”
Check out menus online ahead of time. By scoping out the options, you can make decisions in advance, which can remove some of the stress and the distraction of tempting but unhealthy food options. If ordering takeout, you can search multiple restaurants for dishes that fit your meal plan.
Be conscious of portion sizes. Does this restaurant serve huge portions? If so, try sharing a dish with others you’re eating with. Or request a take-home container right away and box part of the meal up front to avoid eating the entire portion—plus you’ll have food for later! The same rule goes for takeout meals you eat at home. 
Be prepared for judgement and temptation from friends and family you’re eating with. Baker suggested that “neutralize and redirect” is a good strategy, which takes practice.  
Find workarounds. Almost every style of restaurant can be a challenge, but most have delicious workarounds. 
o At a pizza restaurant, it’s really hard to order a house salad with a vinaigrette on the side. If you can’t avoid the pizza, go for thin crust with vegetable toppings and minimal cheese. Eat one or two slices and take the rest home (pizza freezes well) or give it to your friends. 
o If the menu mostly most consists of pasta, order a small portion with a tomato-based sauce (instead of a cream sauce). 
o Mexican restaurants are flexible—skip the enchiladas and tamales. Instead, focus on either a tostada with sour cream and guacamole without the cheese; soft chicken, shrimp, or fish tacos with black beans; ceviche; or other healthy choices. 
o With Asian restaurants, you can enjoy seafood, tofu, and vegetable-focused dishes. Request steamed brown rice instead of white or fried rice. 
o At a sub shop? Choose lean meats and whole grain breads with mustard and oil and vinegar instead of mayo—then just eat half the sandwich . 
If you can’t find anything on the menu that fits your meal plan, politely ask if the chef can prepare something you can enjoy. It could be either a healthy adaptation of something on the menu or something that is low fat . You’d be surprised at how many chefs  would be happy to help you with a healthy option.
Get the Help You Need
Finally, get assistance. Baker advised asking for a referral to a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or certified diabetes educator. A professional can “help strategize a plan to support nutrition/health goals and to optimize enjoyment from food and lifestyle,” she explained. 

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