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Planning a diabetic meal away from home

Mar 13, 2008
The effectiveness of your diabetes management program is largely reliant on how well you plan your diet, given the fact that the wayward blood glucose levels that diabetes brings about are the direct outcome of the carbohydrate content of your meals. Diabetes experts also reiterate the importance of developing a balanced and regulated approach to your meals at the very onset, as wayward food habits and mindless eating sprees are the foundation stones for obesity, which plagues you with a host of complications for years to come. This makes it vital for diabetics to pay attention to not just the calorific content of their meals, but also the frequency of their meal times, to ensure that they a constant watch over their blood glucose levels.

With such stringent restrictions and meticulously planned meals, the prospect of eating out for a change is very likely to make even the most ambivalent of diabetics shudder. A huge part of this fear stems from the fact that at a restaurant, it is not you who decide everything that goes into each dish that you consume, and also the paranoia that you might eat more than what is recommended for you, consciously or otherwise. Many diabetics also shy away from eating out at social occasions, afraid that social pressures may force them to indulge.

This stifling attitude towards eating out is rapidly changing to a more flexible one, with diabetes experts recommending the use of exchange lists. This method of meal planning focuses more on the nutritional composition of your meal, instead of the meal in itself, thereby allowing you to make changes and switches as and when you need to. And so, by simply balancing your meal to accommodate your daily nutritional requirements, you can adapt your dietary regime to include more variety making eating out a much more feasible option.

The two major challenges that eating out pose are the ingredients your meal is made up of and the portion size. If you haven't been to the particular restaurant before, or are looking to experiment with a relatively unknown item on the menu, ask your server about what you should expect. Letting your server know the kind of food you are looking for also goes a long way in ensuring that your meal is as diabetes-friendly as possible, as most restaurants offer substitutes for their popular dishes that are low in calories, high in fiber and low in sodium. Many chefs also try to accommodate special requests for low fat or reduced cholesterol alternatives, if you make it a point to let them know when you order your meal.

A majority of diabetics fumble when posed with the issue of portion size, neglecting the fact that most restaurant portions are a lot larger than what is recommended for them. If you find your meal looking a lot larger than what you are accustomed to, don't force yourself to wolf down more food than you usually do. Share the remainder with your dining companions or carry it back home, to make for an appetizing snack the next day. Try to make your meal as nutritious as possible by choosing your food sensibly. For instance, you could replace your white bread rolls with whole wheat ones, a red meat entre with grilled chicken, and even a low-calorie vinaigrette instead of a mayonnaise or cream-based salad dressing.

Eating out may also call for slight modifications to your regular dietary routine, often leading you to eat well past your regular meal time. When faced with such a situation, try to swap your after-dinner snack with your actual dinner, eating the snack at your meal time and your dinner later in the evening. This will keep you from going hungry for extended periods and developing very low blood glucose levels. Consult your physician to check for any alterations to your diabetes medication, to keep away from undulating blood glucose. Making reservations also cuts short the amount of time you have to spend waiting for your meal, thereby making it a lot easier to stick to schedule. At the end of it all, don't be tempted to throw all caution to the winds and indulge in a sugar and calorie-rich dessert - which will effectively undo all the planning and scheduling you have invested in your meal. Ask for a more nutritious fresh fruit salad or compote instead, to further boost the nutritional value of your meal and keep the calories right where you want them.

Eating out, when you have diabetes is not an inconceivable notion - provided you pay attention to these basic guidelines. Also remember that over-indulgent damage, if done is not irreversible and can be amended with balancing your excesses with your other meals, thus making room for any additional calories. Try to keep your dietary schedule, and your attitude flexible; rigid and harsh methods of dealing with your disease will only lead you to be disheartened and binge uncontrollably with one single day of havoc causing damage you'll have to spend years recovering from.
About the Author
Julia Hanf author of the book How To Play the Diabetes Diet Game and Win Through a real life crisis Julia figured out how to live diabetes free. Visit http://www.yourdiabetescure.com and learn more about your solution for diabetes.
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