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Dining Out With Diabetes

How nice it is to share a good meal in good company, leaving stoves and crockery behind to be waited on at a restaurant! The problem is that many dishes on the menu often tend to increase blood sugar.

Dining out with diabetes: mission impossible? Not at all.

What’s good (and healthy) on the menu?

To follow your diet plan more easily, you should try to choose restaurants with good variety, substitutions at no extra charge and generally healthy options… but you still have to spot the pitfalls! Portions are often larger and the food usually contains more salt and fat. Ask about portion sizes and try not to eat more than at home. Here are a few tips to help you make better choices in restaurants:                                                                                      

  • Ask the waiter about the options or possible substitutions for people living with diabetes.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side so as not to end up with a “drowned” salad, which scores 0 on the healthiness scale.
  • Specify that you do not want salt added to your food during cooking.
  • Avoid fried and breaded foods; these have very high carbohydrate, fat and calorie content.
  • Switch your fries for a salad.
  • If you’re having a drink, avoid high-calorie cocktails such as margaritas and daiquiris.
  • Seek out variety and moderation.
  • Eat vegetables with every meal.
  • Opt for poached, baked, steamed, grilled, roasted or sautéed dishes.
  • Choose a light appetizer, such as steamed seafood or vegetable soup.
  • Beware of buffets, which are too often synonymous with excess.

Should you ban fast food completely?

Not necessarily, but it definitely shouldn’t be a habit—for the sake of both your blood sugar and your waistline. There are ways to mitigate the effects of eating at this type of restaurant:

  • Don’t supersize anything, even if it’s offered as part of a promotion.
  • Avoid mayonnaise and too-rich sauces.
  • Order your burger without cheese: this way, you’re cutting 100 calories per ounce, not to mention all the fats and sodium you’ll dodge.
  • Replace your fries with a salad.
  • When ordering a burger, go for chicken instead of beef.
  • Choose water or milk instead of a soft drink.
  • Finally, don’t forget that the average fast food meal can contain up to 1,000 calories.

What’s the bottom line?

Balance is key to enjoying your outings. Be aware of what’s on your plate and learn the impact of your food choices on your blood sugar level. If you don’t already do so, give healthier options a chance: you’ll be pleasantly surprised!


American Diabetes Association (2015). Top tips for eating a restaurant or fast food lunch. Retrieved from: Accessed July 2 2021.

Diabetes Canada (2018). Eating away from home. Retrieved from: Accessed July 2 2021.

Diabetes Québec (2018). Restaurant Meals. Retrieved from: Accessed July 2 2021.

Diabetes Québec (2018). Your pocket guide to dining out. Retrieved from: Accessed July 2 2021.

UnlockFood (2018). Diabetes and dining out. Retrieved from: Accessed July 2 2021.

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