Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which a person has too much sugar in their blood. Having too much sugar in the blood can cause an array of health issues involving the heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes and feet. In order to prevent complications and keep diabetes under control, people with condition are advised to follow a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar, fat and calories. The need to limit sugar intake is obvious, but it’s also important to cut down on foods that are high in fat and calories.
This is because diabetes-associated complications are more likely to occur in people who are overweight.
In addition, people who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes in the first place, than people are of a healthy weight.
Ensuring you follow a healthy diet may be easy at home, where you can control exactly what you eat.
But it can be much more difficult when eating out at restaurants where you are restricted to whatever is on the menu.
This doesn’t mean, however, that people with diabetes can’t treat themselves to the occasional meal out with friends – it just might be wise to make sensible menu choices.
Health professionals advise that there aren’t any foods people with diabetes have to completely cut out of their diet – but they should limit their intake of unhealthy treats.
“There’s nothing you can’t eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods,” said the NHS.
So what are the best menu choices for people with diabetes at a restaurant? Diabetes UK advises on the most suitable meals for starters, main courses and desserts:
Choose a starter that is “light and refreshing”, such as fragrant Thai salad.
Salads are a much healthier and lower calorie option than garlic bread or other typical starters, but watch out for dressings which can be high in fat.
If you want something more substantial, barbecued or grilled meat or fish starters are likely to be lower in fat than richer dishes, so opt for chicken satay, tikka, mixed grills or tandoori.
As with starters, barbecued or grilled meat or fish dishes are a healthier main course option than richer dishes that are heavily sauce-based.
Steamed or boiled dishes like steamed rice, noodles or vegetables are another good choice.
Order an extra side dish of salad and vegetables, rather than chips, if you find your meal is too light, and ask for any dressings to be served on the side.
If you choose a dessert, keep an eye on portion sizes as it can be easy to eat too much. Opt for a scoop of ice cream, some fresh fruit salad, or a sorbet over cake or a rich pudding.
If you really can’t resist a rich dessert, share with the person you are dining with to cut down on calories, sugar and fat.
“If you can, plan a brisk walk before or after the meal – it will help keep your blood glucose stable and help you manage your weight,” said Diabetes UK.
Diabetes: Four common symptoms
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types – type 1, when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells, and type 2, when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Type 2 is more common that type 1, with 90 per cent of all diabetics in the UK having type 2.
Going to the toilet a lot more than usual, especially at night, is a common sign of diabetes.
Urinating frequently is also a sign of other medical issues, such as prostate problems, so be sure to visit your GP to have diabetes confirmed.
Excessive thirst, otherwise known as polydipsia, is a classic sign of diabetes.
It is linked to frequent urination. As excess glucose builds up in the blood, the kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter and absorb the excess sugar, and if they can’t keep up, the excess sugar is excreted in to urine, taking along fluids from body tissue.
This triggers more urination, which may leave diabetics dehydrated.
High levels of blood sugar can cause the lens inside the eye to swell, which can result in blurred eyesight.
Very low blood sugar levels can also cause blurred vision.
If you aren’t trying to lose weight, and you notice a loss of muscle bulk or the numbers on the scales drop, this could be a sign of diabetes.
This happens because insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood to the cells to use as energy.
The body will then start burning fat and muscle for energy, causing weight loss.