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Dining With Diabetes

January 8, 2014

By Claire Willis, Director of Culinary Nutritionists at MenuTrinfo®.

November was National Diabetes Month. However, as the New Year gets under way the 8.3% of the United States population that has diabetes must carefully monitor what they eat to ensure that they’re taking the best possible care of their bodies. A diet high in fiber and low in sugar, fat and sodium will lead to fewer side effects and better control over blood sugar. Dining out can be risky as it’s not always fully disclosed what’s in a restaurant’s dishes. A grilled chicken breast might be coated in oil before it’s seasoned, or a tomato sauce could be started with a generous pat of butter. Here are some ways that restaurants can accommodate those looking to get a diabetic-friendly dish (every person has different dietary needs and should consult a physician before changing their diet, these are simply suggestions for the guest):

  • A 3-4 ounce portion of grilled or dry-roasted lean protein along with a hearty vegetable side dish that’s steamed or sautéed would be a great place to start.
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to season the food to cut down on salt usage.
  • Anything with a butter or cream-based sauce should be avoided, or the sauce should be served on the side so the guest can choose how much to add.
  • Salads can be simply tossed with a little olive oil and vinegar as a great alternative to sweetened or full-fat dressings. Replacing fried sides like French fries or onion rings with a side salad would be a wonderful option for a diabetic diner.
  • If a grain is part of the dish, try to make it a whole grain. Avoid white rice, pasta and refined breads or tortillas. Brown rice, quinoa, barley and corn tortillas are all improvements over their refined counterparts. With any grains, however, serving sizes shouldn’t be too large or it’s no longer a healthy addition to the meal.
  • If available, mention the possibility to order a half-portion, or deliver a takeout box along with the meal so half can be packed up to go home with the diner before he or she starts eating.

A positive and healthy dining experience will lead to repeat customers who can deliver rave reviews to their friends and family. To learn more about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website at

If your restaurant needs training on how to accommodate diners with diabetes or any other food restrictive diets please visit our website or call 888.767.MENU (6368) and see how we can help.