The Best Choice Possible

How to choose a healthy meal wherever you go.

At restaurants

For healthier menu items, look for these words: grilled, steamed, poached, braised, and broiled.

Even when you’re not cooking at home, you can still stick to your plan to eat healthy. The key is to know what to look for on the menu. If you’re going out to a restaurant, check the menu online before heading out to select a dish that works for your eating plan. Then, when you’re there, you won’t need to make a decision while rushed or based on what other people are ordering. You can even call ahead to ask if the restaurant will prepare dishes without the ingredients you’d like to avoid.

Restaurant menus tend to use specific words to describe their dishes. For healthier menu items, look for these words: grilled, steamed, poached, braised, and broiled. Skip those dishes described with these words: creamy, breaded, crusted, glazed, crispy, and fried. Ask your server what is in a dish or for more details on how it is prepared. Can it be made with the sauce on the side or other adjustments to keep the calories down? And don’t forget to ask what is in your drink. Just one cocktail or glass of wine can spike your blood sugar. When dessert comes, a spoonful of someone else’s may be just enough to end your meal on a sweet note.

At a potluck or buffet

Use your plate to measure portions: Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, then split the rest between a lean protein and a whole grain or other starch.

When everyone makes and brings their favorite recipe to a potluck — or if you’re standing in front of a long buffet — you’ll need a strategy to stick to your healthy eating. Look at all the choices before picking up a plate, then make just a few healthy choices instead of taking a scoop of everything. Use your plate to measure portions: Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, then split the rest between a lean protein and a whole grain or other starch. At the salad bar, another tempting buffet, fill your plate with low-carb leafy greens, broccoli, and bell peppers. Then add lean protein like grilled chicken, beans, or chickpeas. Skip the cheese, croutons, dried fruit, bacon bits, pasta, and potato salad. Top it off with a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice instead of a creamy salad dressing.

At fast-food restaurants

Wherever you go, skip the loaded burrito and basket of chips, which are high in fat, carbohydrates, and salt.

While the average fast-food meal can be 1,000 calories or more, you can find diabetes-friendly options by checking the menu’s nutritional information. Grilled chicken sandwiches are often low-fat options, and sometimes you can substitute salad or apple slices for fries. Chili instead of a burger can also be a high-protein, low-fat option, as is a plain, whole-bean burrito. Or order what you want, but in a junior/child-size instead of a deluxe or super-size.

Monterey County is home to great Mexican food, both in fast-food and sit-down restaurants. Wherever you go, skip the loaded burrito and basket of chips, which are high in fat, carbohydrates, and salt. Instead, go for lean chicken and black beans with lots of pico de gallo and guacamole, and pass on the cheese. Order a whole-bean and veggie burrito or veggie and whole-bean enchiladas. The veggies and the fiber in the beans will help control your blood sugar. And remember, tortillas are not bad; it’s just a matter of quantity. A couple corn tortillas, a whole-grain food, instead of the flour tortillas can be a wise choice.

Healthy choices are everywhere

As you begin looking for healthy choices wherever you go, you may see new options for eating out you never noticed before. Delicious food and special treats are pleasures everyone should have now and then – even when you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. A few small changes in how you read menus and order food can help you treat yourself and deprive The Beast all at the same time.

Your blood sugar can guide you

The same food can affect people differently. So, use your glucose meter or sensor to check your blood sugar before and after eating. Then you can understand the impact of different food son your diabetes control. Learn the kinds and amounts of foods that help you keep your blood sugar levels in range — and you’ll keep The Beast at bay.

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