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Eating Out When You Have Diabetes

Eating right is an important part of keeping your blood sugar in your target range. You just need to make healthy choices.

Man and woman eating healthy food in restaurant.

Tips for restaurant meals

When you eat away from home try these tips:

  • Try to schedule your dining-out meal at your normal mealtime. Make a reservation if possible, so you don't have to wait to eat. If you can't, try to arrive at a less-busy time to cut down your wait time. Eat a small fruit or starch snack at your regular mealtime if your restaurant meal is going to be later than usual. 

  • Call ahead to see if the restaurant can meet your dietary needs if you've never been there before. Or you can go online to see the menu ahead of time. Plan ahead so you won't need to look at the menu when you order.

  • Carry some crackers with you in case the restaurant needs you to wait until you can be served.

  • Ask how foods are prepared before you order.

  • Don't drink alcohol before your meal.

  • Instead of fried, sautéed, or breaded foods, choose ones that are broiled, steamed, grilled, or baked.

  • Ask for sauces, gravies, and dressings on the side.

  • Swap unhealthy side dishes, such as french fries, for healthy choices, such as sliced tomatoes or cottage cheese.

  • Only eat an amount that fits your meal plan. Remember: You can take home the leftovers.

  • Save dessert for special times. Then choose a small dessert or share 1 with a friend or family member.

  • If you use insulin and your meal will be at a different time than you usually eat, ask your healthcare provider if and how you should adjust your medicine.

Make healthy choices

Fast food

  • Garden salad with light dressing on the side

  • Baked potato with vegetables or herbs

  • Broiled, roasted, or grilled chicken sandwich

  • Sliced turkey or lean roast beef sandwich


  • Chicken enchilada, without cheese or sour cream 

  • Small burrito with whole beans and chicken

  • Whole beans (not refried) and rice

  • Chicken or fish fajitas


  • Grilled or broiled lean cuts of beef

  • Baked potato with vegetables or herbs

  • Broiled or baked chicken. Don’t eat the skin.

  • Steamed vegetables


  • Steamed dumplings or potstickers

  • Broiled, boiled, or steamed meats or fish

  • Sushi or sashimi

  • Steamed rice or boiled noodles. One serving is equal to 1/3 cup.

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2022
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