Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy when the body has trouble managing sugar properly. In this scenario, it’s essential to pay attention to your diet to ensure stable blood sugar levels and promote the health of both you and your baby. However, eating out with gestational diabetes can be challenging because many restaurant foods are high in sugar and carbs. But fear not! This guide equips you with helpful strategies for making healthier choices when dining out, allowing you to enjoy your meal without the added worry about your condition. 

Plan Before Heading Out

Before heading out to eat with gestational diabetes, it’s smart to plan. Checking out restaurant menus online can be a big help. This way, you can see what options they offer and pick out a healthy meal in advance. When you know what you’ll order, it’s easier to stick to your healthy eating plan and avoid tempting but not-so-healthy dishes. 

Also, think about what you’ll eat before you even get to the restaurant. Have a small snack to keep your hunger in check, or plan to order a balanced meal with protein, veggies, and whole grains. Planning sets you up for success when dining out. 

Make Wise Food Choices

When dining out, prioritize low-carbohydrate and low-sugar options to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Avoid dishes that are deep-fried or smothered in heavy sauces, as these can cause spikes in blood sugar. Instead, opt for grilled meats, such as chicken or fish, which are leaner and lower in carbohydrates. 

Load up your plate with salads featuring a variety of colorful vegetables, like leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Additionally, include plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini, which have minimal impact on blood sugar levels. By making these wise food choices, you can better manage your gestational diabetes and support the health of both you and your baby during pregnancy.

Observe Portion Control

Restaurant servings are usually bigger than what’s recommended for a balanced meal, so it’s important to keep this in mind. A useful tip is to picture proper portion sizes: meat servings should match the size of your palm, while carbohydrate servings, such as rice or pasta, should be similar to your fist’s size.

Another useful suggestion is to request a smaller portion or choose an appetizer as your main meal. If sharing a meal isn’t an option, consider boxing up half of your dish as soon as it arrives. This not only prevents overeating but also provides a tasty leftover meal for later. 

Opt for Healthy Beverages

Although it may be tempting to enjoy sugary beverages such as sodas or sweetened cocktails, they can swiftly elevate your blood sugar levels. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives that won’t wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Stick to water as your primary beverage choice—it’s refreshing, hydrating, and has zero calories or sugar. 

If you’re craving something more flavorful, unsweetened tea or herbal tea is a great option. Not only are these beverages low in calories and sugar, but they also offer various health benefits, such as antioxidants. Additionally, consider asking for a slice of lemon or lime to add a burst of flavor to your water or tea without adding any extra sugar.  

Ask Questions and Make Substitutions

Don’t hesitate to inquire about how dishes are prepared, including the cooking methods used and the ingredients in sauces or dressings. Additionally, don’t be afraid to request modifications to suit your specific needs. For example, you can ask for sauces or dressings to be served on the side, enabling you to control the amount you consume. 

Similarly, consider substituting high-carbohydrate side dishes, such as fries or mashed potatoes, with healthier alternatives like steamed vegetables or a side salad. Many restaurants are accommodating to dietary requests, so don’t hesitate to speak up and advocate for yourself. 

Consider Timing and Balance Indulgence

Try to eat meals and snacks regularly to avoid significant swings in glucose levels during the day. Skipping meals or prolonged periods without eating can lead to unstable blood sugar levels and potential complications.

While it’s perfectly okay to indulge when dining out occasionally, it’s important to do so in moderation and with mindfulness. Treat yourself to small portions of your favorite indulgent foods, but try to balance them with healthier options like grilled proteins and vegetables.

Listen To Your Body

When dining out with gestational diabetes, it’s important to tune in to your body’s cues and observe how various foods impact your blood sugar levels. Take note of how your body responds to various menu items, and adjust your choices accordingly to maintain stable blood sugar levels.  

Opt for balanced meals that include whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of non-starchy vegetables to minimize spikes in blood sugar. If certain foods consistently lead to undesirable outcomes, consider making substitutions or exploring alternative dining options.  

Dine Out with Confidence 

Managing gestational diabetes while dining out requires mindfulness, flexibility, and proactive decision-making. By implementing strategies such as planning, making wise food choices, controlling portion sizes, and listening to your body’s responses, you can effectively navigate restaurant menus and maintain stable blood sugar levels. Remember to prioritize overall dietary balance and moderation, allowing yourself occasional indulgences while focusing on nutritious options the majority of the time. 

Additionally, seeking support and guidance from healthcare providers or registered dietitians can provide personalized advice to help you manage your condition effectively. With these strategies in mind, you can enjoy dining out while prioritizing your health and the well-being of your baby throughout your pregnancy journey.