Mmm . . . Italian food . . . Chinese . . . seafood . . . no, wait — Mexican!
Definitely Mexican food tonight! Sound familiar? Everybody loves to eat out. Can kids
with diabetes go out to restaurants? Sure they can.
Which Restaurant Should I Choose?
Kids who have diabetes don't need to eat a special diet. But like all kids, they
should eat a mix of healthy foods. No restaurant is off-limits, but if you're helping
to choose a restaurant, look for ones that offer some nutritious items. You can check
out menus online.
You don't have to find a place that serves soy burgers and carrot sticks —
although that might be yummy! If you can choose some protein,
fats, and carbohydrates,
then you'll be able to stick to your meal plan.
Sometimes you'll go to restaurants that have just what you want and need. Other
times, you may have trouble finding something that fits into your meal plan. If that
happens, remember that you're in the driver's seat. You don't just have to order blindly
or take whatever is on the menu. Many restaurants will answer your questions and make
substitutions, if you request them.
Some Quick Tips
Try these tips when you're dining out:
Get answers. Sometimes, the menu doesn't really tell you what's
in a dish or how it's prepared (for example, whether it's baked or fried). Go ahead
and ask. The person taking your order should know the answers or be able to find them
out for you.
Make changes. To get a well-balanced meal, ask if you can substitute
certain ingredients or side orders (for example, you could ask for salad instead of
fries). Don't feel weird about it — people ask for changes all the time. In
some restaurants, you can ask the cook to prepare something in a different way. You
might ask to have your chicken broiled instead of fried, for example.
Watch the sides. Avoid foods with sauces or gravy, and ask for
low-fat salad dressings on the side.
Pick your own portion. Portions can be very big at restaurants.
Feel free to eat only part of your order and take the rest home. You can also split
your order with a parent or friend.
Stay on your plan. You'll feel your best and be your healthiest
if you stick with your meal plan wherever you are — home, restaurant, or even
the school cafeteria. If you're having trouble with this, ask a parent for help.
What Should I Bring With Me?
When you go out to eat, you should bring the things you take with you everywhere,
like testing supplies, snacks, and medications. Another helpful tool is a little book
that lists the calories, fats, and carbs in certain foods (you can get this from your
doctor or dietitian). You can slip this book in your bag or pocket and test how well
you can choose from the menu yourself. If you use things like artificial sweeteners
or fat-free spreads, feel free to bring them along, too.
If you take insulin
(say: IN-suh-lin), there's no need to stay home if you have to eat later than usual
— in most cases, you can just make a few adjustments to your medicine schedule.
Once you know how to eat healthy, you can do it almost anywhere. Now, the only
question is, do you want the chicken taco salad, the lobster tail, or . . . mmm .
. . pizza!