Mmm . . . Italian food . . . Chinese . . . seafood . . . no, wait — Mexican! Definitely Mexican food tonight! Sound familiar? Everybody loves to eat out. Can kids with diabetes go out to restaurants? Sure they can. Which Restaurant Should I Choose? Kids who have diabetes don't need to eat a special diet. But like all kids, they should eat a mix of healthy foods. No restaurant is off-limits, but if you're helping to choose a restaurant, look for ones that offer some nutritious items. You can check out menus online. You don't have to find a place that serves soy burgers and carrot sticks — although that might be yummy! If you can choose some protein, fats, and carbohydrates, then you'll be able to stick to your meal plan. Sometimes you'll go to restaurants that have just what you want and need. Other times, you may have trouble finding something that fits into your meal plan. If that happens, remember that you're in the driver's seat. You don't just have to order blindly or take whatever is on the menu. Many restaurants will answer your questions and make substitutions, if you request them. Some Quick Tips Try these tips when you're dining out: Get answers. Sometimes, the menu doesn't really tell you what's in a dish or how it's prepared (for example, whether it's baked or fried). Go ahead and ask. The person taking your order should know the answers or be able to find them out for you. Make changes. To get a well-balanced meal, ask if you can substitute certain ingredients or side orders (for example, you could ask for salad instead of fries). Don't feel weird about it — people ask for changes all the time. In some restaurants, you can ask the cook to prepare something in a different way. You might ask to have your chicken broiled instead of fried, for example. Watch the sides. Avoid foods with sauces or gravy, and ask for low-fat salad dressings on the side. Pick your own portion. Portions can be very big at restaurants. Feel free to eat only part of your order and take the rest home. You can also split your order with a parent or friend. Stay on your plan. You'll feel your best and be your healthiest if you stick with your meal plan wherever you are — home, restaurant, or even the school cafeteria. If you're having trouble with this, ask a parent for help. What Should I Bring With Me? When you go out to eat, you should bring the things you take with you everywhere, like testing supplies, snacks, and medications. Another helpful tool is a little book that lists the calories, fats, and carbs in certain foods (you can get this from your doctor or dietitian). You can slip this book in your bag or pocket and test how well you can choose from the menu yourself. If you use things like artificial sweeteners or fat-free spreads, feel free to bring them along, too. If you take insulin (say: IN-suh-lin), there's no need to stay home if you have to eat later than usual — in most cases, you can just make a few adjustments to your medicine schedule. Once you know how to eat healthy, you can do it almost anywhere. Now, the only question is, do you want the chicken taco salad, the lobster tail, or . . . mmm . . . pizza! Back to Articles Related Articles Diabetes Center Diabetes means a problem with insulin, an important hormone in the body. Find out how children with diabetes can stay healthy and do the normal stuff kids like to do. Read More About Recipes for Kids With Diabetes Just like everyone else, kids who have diabetes need to eat a variety of healthy foods. Give these nutritious recipes a try! Read More Figuring Out Food Labels The food label on a food package is a lot like the table of contents in a book - it tells you exactly what the food contains. Read our article for kids for more about food labels. Read More Meal Plans: What Kids With Diabetes Need to Know Meal plans help people with diabetes eat right and stay healthy. What's a meal plan? Read More Carbohydrates and Diabetes If you have diabetes, you might think you shouldn't eat carbohydrates (carbs) at all. But all kids, including kids with diabetes, can and should eat carbs as part of a healthy diet. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.