Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Day 22-Add Restaurants, Parties, and Travel
We are heading into the graduation open houses, weddings, and family gatherings that summer brings. If you've been following me you know these could quickly derail all the good work you've done.
So, dine out with savvy. Skip the bread basket. If you're having wine, ask that it be delivered with your meal and sip it. Start with a soup that doesn't have a cream base. Follow it with a salad and extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side so you can control the amount. Pick an entree' of either fish, poultry or lean meat surrounded by lots of vegetables. If you must have a potato, request a small one without the sour cream and bacon bits. Just add a small pat of butter and eat it skin and all. If you're at a restaurant that serves exceptionally large portions, ask the waiter for a doggie bag so you won't be tempted.
What about dessert? You just ate a lot of food (volume-wise not calories) you should be full. If you still have room for dessert, pick something simple and split it with your companions. One or two spoonfuls should satisfy you.
The Most important decision is where to eat. You already know fast-food restaurants are unhealthy. National chains also tend to be unhealthy, although if you're skillful you can navigate your way through one. You might have to ask the waiter for a side salad instead of French fries, but a good meal is possible. Olive Garden menu items are notoriously sodium saturated, so you need to ask that the chef use no salt. When ordering Chinese stir-fries, request minimum oil and no MSG. Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate special needs.
Seafood specialists, it's hard to go wrong with a fresh fish or a pile of seafood surrounded by veggies. Just don't order anything fried.
Thai food is always a good choice because it's loaded with veggies, while featuring seafood, lean meat, and poultry. Stay away from Pad Thai (which is fried noodles.). Most restaurants offer brown rice.
Asian cuisine not the Chinese buffet, with its chemically fluorescent sweet and sour sauces and oil-drenched veggies and meats. Stick to smaller Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants offering homestyle meals. Go for brightly colored vegetable stir-fries loaded on brown rice.
Mediterranean, again probably not Olive Garden, feature fish, lean meat, lots of veggies, and salads are a good choice. Italian-theme restaurants are hit and miss because they usually feature pizza and pasta.
Japanese, hits high on the Doctor's list of diabetes healing foods. There's always fish, raw and cooked, and there may be brown rice. Nibbling steamed edamame (green soy beans) as a appetizer is a sure hit. You can usually get grilled wild salmon and a beautiful choice of vegetables.
Diners believe it or not most diners offer a wide array of real foods, starting with the omelet. Eggs are your friend any time and can be accompanied by a variety of healing foods. Feel free to order green beans, baked beans, and salad in place of toast or potatoes.
Surviving the Holidays:
Eat before you go. Silly as you're going to a party where there will be lots of food. Exactly why you need to eat a filling, balanced meal with plenty of protein and veggies shortly before you go. You'll be less tempted to snack.
But I'm going to a party right after work. The secret of living a diabetes healing life in the outside world is planning ahead. Plan the night before to take some leftovers you can microwave and eat before you leave work. Or put together a heftier snack pack than usual. Include veggies, protein (hard boiled eggs or turkey slices with cheese) plus some low carbs (raw veggies and hummus, a half-cup kidney bean salad with bean dip) and don't forget to take a small bag of nuts.
Potluck jackpot: Someone always brings a big salad. Someone (you?) ensures there's a colorful raw veggie tray filled with freshly cut carrots, celery, chopped broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. "Someone" might make a tangy dip with garlicky Greek yogurt and herbs. The possibilities are endless. Cook up a pot of chili from grass fed beef or bison and two or three varieties of beans. Bring diabetes friendly dishes that you can enjoy.
Buffet survival skills: Cruise the offerings for those with maximum protein. Choose meatballs over pasta salad. Skip the mac and cheese, choose chili. Load up on salad and veggies. Nibble from the cheese tray but leave the crackers behind. If you're having a cocktail, go for a Bloody Mary or white wine spritzer and nurse it to the max.
Tips for Travel:
Get a map: If you arrive at an airport of train station without food, may the force be with you. Your only real option is to check a map, locate all nearby restaurants and choose places that at least offer a salad and fresh fruit. At breakfast skip the fast carb bagels and choose scrambled eggs. Ask for a fresh tomato slice or fruit instead of potatoes. Pass on processed breakfast meats.
Pack your snacks: Never leave home without a personal supply of food. Yes, you have to do a little more pre-packing, but given flight delays you'll be glad you did. Some people even pack small coolers with diabetes healing foods.
A cooler for your car or a train trip is a must. Pack veggies, dips, hard boiled eggs, canned tuna and sardines, plus artisan cheeses. Be sure you include lean meats, tomato, lettuce (if you can eat it). plus condiments for making sandwiches on whole grain bread. Take a blanket so you can stop and relax at rest areas.
Other food cultures: Other cultures take food much more seriously than we do in the US, meaning in other countries it might be easier to make healthy choices. Avoid all fast foods period.
At a friend's home: Honor your hosts by enjoying what they prepare. Be vigilant about portions, choosing mostly veggies and lean protein. Of course you'll try a small spoonful of any special dishes the host slaved over and you'll relish every bite. If it's a close friend, be sure to confide in your host about your condition. Most will be more than willing to accommodate you.