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How to ace dinner-out with diabetes!

by Dr. Kate Marsh on March 22, 2023

Whether it's a nice restaurant, a special family celebration or a party with friends, we all take pleasure in eating out and enjoying a meal with others.  Unfortunately, these occasions often come with the temptation to order foods high in fat and energy and served in amounts much larger than we need!  

So how can you enjoy yourself without negatively impacting your weight and blood glucose levels?

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for eating well away from home. Here are some tips to help when you next eat out:

  • You probably wouldn’t eat a three-course meal at home, so don’t feel you need to at a restaurant. Stick to one or two courses or if you see a dessert or an entrée that really appeals, share it with your dining companion.
    • Choose lean meats, chicken or fish that have been grilled, steamed, stir-fried or baked, and avoid the battered, crumbed and fried options. Or go vego, and choose meals based on legumes or tofu.
    • Be wary of sides. Hot chips, potato or sweet potato wedges, creamy mashed potato or oil-laden roast vegetables can really add up the fat and kilojoules.  Go for steamed vegetables or a salad instead.
    • Avoid creamy sauces and dressings or ask for these on the side and add just a little for the taste.
    • When choosing higher carb dishes like pasta and risotto, order an entrée size with a side serving of salad or steamed veggies.
    • Attending a finger food function? Consider having a light meal before you go, so you don’t turn up starving. Then you can just enjoy a taste of the items that really appeal, without needing to fill up on what are often energy dense offerings, with little in the way of veggies.
    • Don’t feel that you need to eat everything on your plate just because you’ve paid for it. Portion sizes when eating out are almost always too big, so stop when you are satisfied, not overly full.
    • Like to dine out for breakfast? Forget the bacon and sausages and go for poached eggs with a side of vegetables (such as tomato, spinach or mushrooms) and some wholegrain or sourdough toast.
    • Don’t forget your fluids. Many people consider what they eat but forget that what they drink on special occasions can really add up. Avoid or limit alcohol and soft drinks - not only are they high in energy, but alcohol can also increase your appetite. If you do choose to drink alcohol, alternate alcoholic drinks with mineral water or soda water and limit your overall intake.
    • When eating at friends or family, ensure there are some healthy options by offering to take an entrée, salad or dessert. Hummus with vegetable crudités, a fresh salad, a nice loaf of sourdough bread, or a bowl of fresh berries are good choices which will be enjoyed by everyone.

    Remember, while dining out with diabetes can be more challenging, it doesn’t have to be a dietary disaster. And it doesn’t mean giving up all of your favourite foods.   Follow these tips and you can enjoy a nice meal out while still keeping your weight and blood glucose levels on track.



    Please remember, it is important to consult with a doctor or diabetes healthcare professional for personalised advice and guidance on how to manage diabetes. 

    Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is not medical advice.

    1 comment
    by chris in Sydney on November 16, 2018

    Thank you to the person who sent this nutritionally sensible ‘dining-out’ guide, and to the author Dr Kate Marsh, whose very good advice agrees with what I’ve learned over my six decades of T1, and it also matches what I recall from what mum advised (before such specialists existed) a long time ago.