Eating out: get your order right

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Eating out is an enjoyable part of life, and having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from sharing a meal with family and friends. If you only eat out occasionally, the choices you make are less likely to affect your overall diabetes management than if you eat out regularly. If eating out is a regular part of your life, it’s important to try and choose healthy options

Many restaurants serve food that easily fits into a healthy eating plan. Some restaurants have menus online so you can see what healthier choices are available. It’s a good idea to ask restaurant staff about the dish of your choice and the way it has been cooked – this way you can request simple changes if you need to.

Go for:

  • Choose clear or vegetable-based soups rather than creamy soups.
  • Order salad or steamed vegetables as a side dish.
  • Choose olive oil or vinegar-based dressings for salads.
  • Look for grilled, stir-fried, braised or barbequed dishes with lean meats and plenty of vegetables.
  • Choose dishes with lean cuts of meat, seafood or skinless chicken.
  • Choose the entrée size for pasta dishes and risotto, and opt for a tomato or vegetable-based sauce.
  • Have fresh fruit salad or sorbet instead of rich desserts.
  • Choose plain, mineral, soda water or diet soft drinks.
  • Ask for a small serving of dessert or share one.


  • Dishes described as creamy, battered, crispy or fried.
  • Salty foods and don’t add extra salt to your meal.
  • Extras such as bread and butter, chips with the meal, and chocolates with coffee.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit this to two standard drinks.
  • Ask for an entrée-size meal as a main dish.
  • If choosing from a buffet, try not to over-eat – limit how often you go back for more.
  • Limit salads that contain creamy dressings or high-fat extras like croutons, cheese or deli meats.
  • When eating Asian or Indian-style meals, limit creamy curries and take care with your serving size of rice, noodles and flat breads.
  • Be careful with sauces, dressings and condiments – ask for them to be served on the side and only use small amounts.

If you are invited to eat with family and friends at their home, offer to bring a healthy dish to share. Special occasions – such as birthdays and other celebrations – should be enjoyed. You don’t need to miss out on special occasion foods, just ask for a smaller serve. If you use insulin, ask your host what kind of meal they will be serving so you can bring additional carbohydrate foods if needed.

For more information speak to a Diabetes NSW & ACT Dietitian on 1300 342 238

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