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EATING OUT? MAKE IT A GUILT FREE TRIP!

It comes as a big surprise to my patients that I’m a big foodie and love to eat out and try different cuisines. Everyone needs a break from eating the same food every day, right!

Sticking to a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to avoid dining out. Eating out is not impossible while aspiring to a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes it can be challenging to make the right choices when doing so.

(To understand the basics of making healthy food choices at home, visit my last few blogs where I talk about healthy carbs, proteins and fats.)

For many people, eating healthy is a chore and dreaded to the point of being given up altogether. But once you understand your choices, all you need to do is to plan ahead a little to ensure you can eat out guilt free. Most places are happy to customise your order. Try and find such restaurants and keep a list handy for when you want to head out.

When possible, eat something healthy at home (or work) before heading out in order to avoid excessive eating there. For example: a fruit or salad or a cup of clear soup. This will help avoid binging as well.

When that’s not possible, order a salad or a soup first or start the meal with it in case of a buffet. Choose a clear soup with vegetables and / or chicken rather than a cream based one.

While ordering appetisers pick ones that are not deep-fried, like grilled vegetables or cottage cheese or grilled chicken or fish. Another great option is to try something that is steamed, like dumplings or steamed seafood.

Keep a check on portions – if the restaurant is serving large portions, order less at a time and share your meals with your companions. If you’re not sure about what is in a dish or the serving size, do ask your server. Many of the restaurants are happy to explain their recipes and portion sizes in details.

Avoid alcoholic drinks as far as possible, instead, order fresh lime water without sugar or honey. If you do want to order alcohol, go for a glass of red wine or 30 ml of any hard liquor. For your mains, make sure you order a low fat meal with 2 servings of carbs and 1 portion of protein. (Read up on calculating portion sizes in my earlier blogs here…..)

When not having alcohol, make sure you include at least one portion of healthy carbs, equal portion of protein and have lots of fibre (greens and vegetables) on the side. 

Choose your ingredients healthy.

Food

Healthier choices

Bread

Whole wheat/ multi grain bread

Rice

Steamed brown rice

Meats and poultry

Avoid red meats and organ meats, pick grilled chicken or fish or a chicken steak

Fries

Mashed potatoes; grilled sweet potatoes

Tortilla

Multi grain tortilla

Soup

Clear soups (no crème)

Pasta

Whole wheat pasta

 

For example-

Prefer whole wheat pasta over white pasta and choose sauces with tomato and pesto base. Avoid the cheese filled creamy white sauces as they will make your meal very high in fat. Try and have a salad on the side or get two fistful of veggies added to your pasta and some cubes of grilled chicken, cottage cheese or tofu.

Same can be done while ordering pizza. Choose whole grain or multi grain pizza base, loaded with veggies and minimum cheese, a portion of grilled chicken, cottage cheese or tofu and a dash of olive oil.

While dinning at (or ordering from) Chinese restaurants specifically ask your server to not add Chinese salt or MSG to your dishes. If you rarely (once in 3 months) dine Chinese, don’t bother.

At coffee shops, pick whole wheat or multi grain bread in your sandwich and avoid cheese and mayonnaise. Avoid added cream in your drinks and say no to high sugar add-ons like chocolate, caramel or mocha.

Ok, so what about desserts? My dining out experience is incomplete without a dessert. Instead of the high fat ice creams and cakes that restaurants tend to peddle, I usually pick a gelato or a mixed fruit salad or ice candy. The next time you’re ordering dessert, try this – instead of having two portions of carbs in your main have only one and enjoy anyone one of the dessert options above, Guilt Free!

Try different combinations at different restaurants and always check your post meal blood sugar and update your food diary (if you’re a diabetic). If your blood sugar is well in control you know that you can indulge in that particular kind of meal and dessert confidently and more often.

Travelling and eating out with friends and family can be an enjoyable experience even for a diabetic as long as they choose the right foods and eat moderate quantities.

While travelling, stock up healthy snacking options like nuts, nutrient dense fruits, nutri-bars (pick low sugar, low fat types). Diabetics should stick one portion of fruit as a between meal snack which is either one medium apple, pear, orange or guava or three slices of papaya, pineapple or melon or one medium bowl of pomegranate or any berries. High sugar fruits such as bananas, custard apples, grapes Sapodilla (Sapota), mangoes should be consumed in half portions sizes (of above). The idea is to avoid high sugar fruits and get more nutrients in from other fruits to keep your blood sugar in control.

Oh! And by the way,  Avoid Fruit Juices. Period!! 

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