How to Create a More Diabetes-Friendly Meal

How to Create a More Diabetes-Friendly Meal More than 29 million people (children and adults) in the U.S. have diabetes, and another 86 million people have pre-diabetes. This represents an enormous group of potential guests seeking menu choices that can help them manage blood sugar rather than giving up dining out.  In addition, people with diabetes may be trying to lose weight, watch their sodium intake, and/or watch their saturated fat intake while keeping an eye on carbohydrate intake—since it’s carbohydrates that cause changes in blood glucose levels.

Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians regularly receives questions from consumers seeking guidance on dining out with diabetes.  Are you offering the choices this growing group is looking for?  Here’s what our dietitians recommend to appeal to these guests:

  • Offer smaller plates – Standard restaurant servings often equal two, three, or even four times recommended serving sizes. Those managing diabetes or pre-diabetes are advised to keep from eating too many calories, carbohydrates, saturated fat, and salt and will be looking for smaller portions and/or options to split meals or pre-box part of their meal.
  • Include lean protein – When creating new dishes for your menu, include choices with fish, beans, skinless chicken, turkey, or lean cuts of red meat (i.e., beef or pork loin, roast beef) for the protein options diabetics and health-conscious guests are seeking.
  • Help guests control excess calories and saturated fat – Offer baked, broiled, sautéed, or grilled items instead of fried foods; serve sauces, gravies, and dressings on the side to give guests more control; and clearly state when dishes are cooked with higher saturated fat ingredients like butter. These steps help guests limit saturated fat and calories.
  • Serve smart carbohydrates – These can be especially important for guests trying to ensure blood glucose levels remain normal. Add whole grain starches (rolls, rice, pasta, etc.) to your menu wherever possible. Offer fiber-rich fruits and vegetables as entrées, sides, and/or desserts.
  • Offer nutrition information – With the menu labeling deadline on the horizon, more and more restaurants are posting calories and providing complete nutrition information for menu choices.  This step is a must for enticing those managing diabetes, weight and other health conditions to your restaurant to eat.
  • Work with an expert – When creating new menu choices, get guidance from a nutrition professional familiar with recommendations for those managing diabetes and pre-diabetes.

The numbers of individuals managing diabetes have continued to grow and with them, the need for more tempting menu choices that meet stricter nutrition guidelines. How are you appealing to guests dining out with diabetes and similar health conditions?