Going out for dinner can become less appealing for people with Type 2 Diabetes than it was before they were diagnosed. The back-and-forth about what is acceptable to eat, whether special requests will mean you get spit in your food, and the twinge of self-pity that comes with passing up what you desperately crave can make a night in someone else's kitchen a bit less of a treat.
So what is a diabetic to do? Eat out anyway!
Being well-fed, happy, healthy and diabetic is no longer as challenging as it once was. The web abounds with diabetes meal plans and lists of foods' glycemic indexes, cookbooks are available for everything from vegan to down-home Southern-style diabetic treats, and restaurants everywhere - including those in Cleveland Heights! - are jumping on the health-food bandwagon (making it easier for you to identify what is and is not your best option).
Follow these tips to eat well and, when the evening calls for it, to eat out safely and deliciously around town:
- Use artificial sweeteners. Order an iced tea and add a non-sugar sweetener like stevia; diabetics can swap sodas for artificially sweetened teas to help their restaurant carb count go much further.
- Think protein, veggies, and broth-based soups. Steering clear of breadsticks and pasta is a virtual no-brainer for diabetics, but it can be hard to find a suitable replacement in some places. If you find yourself in a restaurant with a carb-heavy menu, just ask for a rundown on the salad, sandwich, and soup options.
- Get sauces and dressings on the side. Salad dressings, mayo and sandwich sauces, and pasta sauce can be hidden disasters for diabetics. Just ask for the dressing, spread, or sauce on the side and dip your fork in a bit of it before each bite - you will consume much less than if your food is smothered in it or completely coated without sacrificing the flavor.
- Limit portion sizes. Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate people who are diabetic or even those who just want to be conscientious about portion size. When you order, ask that they please reserve half of your meal from the get-go by serving half and boxing the other half before they bring out the food. This will keep you from over-eating or indulging too much in a guilty pleasure food (in case you really can't pass up your carbo-licious weakness!).
Where (and What) to Eat in the Heights
A Phiner Bistro offers natural, healthy cuisine with exquisite presentation. They make everything to order, and they actually care about your health. Rock on! Try the Gulf Seared Shrimp, the Tender Beef Salad, or the Okra Stew.
Cafe Tandoor is India's gift to Cleveland's restaurant fans, even if you need to be rice-free. Try the vegetable grill, the chicken tikka, or the salmon for an Indian meal you won't soon forget.
Mad Greek is another cultural wonder. Pretty much every appetizer is fair game provided you take it easy on the pita bread. Then try the salmon salad and the dal soup, and be glad you read this article.
Melt Bar and Grilled offers selections too - yes, you can eat there! This will just be your guilty pleasure (where you ask them to wrap half of it up before they serve it, too). Try the Mushroom Melt or the Blackened Chicken, or enjoy the killer Grilled House Salad. You won't be sorry!
Anyway, this is just a starter - tons more options exist in many more delicious area restaurants. Go ahead and give them a try. Just remember to monitor your glucose levels and plan carefully when you go out to eat. Diabetes isn't prison...think of it as a persuasive tool to get you eating better! Restaurant food is still available to diabetics - all it takes is a bit of smart ordering and the confidence of knowing you are taking care of your health when you pass on the fudge lava cake. Who needs that much chocolate anyway?
Note: Remember, I am not a physician or health professional. The information should not be treated as medical advice.