Anne’s Tasty Tidbits: Navigating the Food Jungle

Welcome to 2020! I celebrated the New Year by deciding not to make any resolutions. Any new resolutions, at least.  Instead, I am continuing to focus on eating foods that won’t throw my blood sugar levels out of whack.

When the holiday season hits in December, it can seem like an endless parade of celebrating with friends, family and coworkers. All of it involves food – and it often means eating in restaurants.  I have friends who don’t go out to eat, because letting someone else cook for you means ceding control of the ingredients. If you don’t truly know what is in what you’re eating, you don’t know how your blood sugar will be affected.

Even seemingly good choices can be deceptive.  For instance, a person with diabetes perusing the menu at IHOP would likely choose eggs, a classic safe-food that won’t cause your blood sugar levels to rise.  However, take a bite of an omelet and you’ll be in for a surprise – IHOP uses pancakes batter to make their omelets fluffier! Not only would you not know that, but why would you even think to ask about that? Thankfully, many people are now aware of this, and have devised a work-around.  While your family and friends eat pancakes and waffles, request scrambled eggs or ask for “fresh” eggs to be used in your omelet.

I have also become an expert at knowing which foods are easiest to transform into diabetes-friendly, satisfying options, and it has changed my dining-out experience. I have come to look at a restaurant as my “personal chef.” I have no qualms about being very specific about how I want my meals prepared. I am not shy about letting my server know I am a diabetic and that I cannot eat certain foods, including flour and sugar. The first time you ask a server to have your food prepared a particular way, it may be intimidating. But I have found that by asking for their help, and telling them why I need it, they become my ally. So if I ask if their soup contains flour, they will happily go and ask the chef.

Thanks to the internet, we can even check many restaurants’ menus even before crossing their threshold. I often peruse the menu in advance of suggesting a restaurant to friends. If there’s nothing for me, I can look for a good alternative.

Healthy Eating Ideas

No matter where I go, if they offer a hamburger or grilled chicken, I know I’m safe.  Ordering them without the bun and fries is simple. How to dress it up so you don’t feel deprived? Have it prepared with your favorite toppings, such as cheese, bacon, avocado or salsa. Replace the fries with a fresh Caesar or garden salad, or opt for grilled veggies. The same goes for ordering sandwiches, which I ask for deconstructed. I pick out the filling I like best, then ask them to prepare it over a salad, or over broccoli with melted butter on top. A traditional club sandwich, which uses three slices of bread, is transformed into a beautiful salad platter.

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