woman and man dining out at a restaurant

Dining out can prove to be a challenge when you suffer from diabetes. There are many hidden sugars and carbs in the meals you order, often times disguised as a healthy food that you’d never think twice about ordering. But just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating out at restaurants; it just means you need to be a little more informed about the menu options you’re choosing from.

8 Foods to Avoid Eating at Restaurants When You Have Diabetes

Dining out when you have diabetes requires a more conscious and knowledgeable approach when it comes to the foods you order. If you’re unsure about whether a menu option is high in carbohydrates or sugar, ask the waiter to explain how the food is prepared so you can be better informed and make smart choices.

Here are 8 common foods you can find at a variety of restaurants that you will typically want to avoid ordering:

1. Bread Basket

It’s customary for a waiter to bring out a basket of warm bread at many restaurants. Whether you’re at an Italian restaurant with garlic bread or a French bistro with sliced baguette, take a pass on the bread basket as this loaded with unnecessary carbs that really won’t satiate you but will instead increase your blood sugar levels.

2. Salads with Sweet Ingredients or Dressings

Salads with high-carb fruits and sweet dressings can have a ton of sugar in them, overshadowing any positive health benefits from the greens. Instead, opt for salads with more savory elements and dressings, or just a simple house salad with lemon and olive oil.

3. Sugary Drinks

You’ll want to avoid soda, sweet cocktails, and fruit juices when you’re dining out. Water is always the best option, but if you want to order something else, opt for something like unsweetened iced tea with a sugar-free sweetener. If you want to order an alcoholic beverage, ask if the restaurant can offer you a “skinny” version of the cocktail, which typically doesn’t have as much sugar as the regular version.

4. Sweet Asian Sauces

Asian sauces like teriyaki sauce or orange sauce can be loaded with sugar and cause a major glucose spike. Ask for a side of soy sauce instead of any sweet sauces, and if you’re not sure whether a sauce is going to be a sweet or not, ask for the restaurant to put it on the side.

5. Breaded Chicken, Fish, or Meat

As tempting as chicken parmesan or fish and chips may be, you’ll want to avoid these heavily breaded entrées. While the chicken or fish part of the meal isn’t bad, the breaded exterior is high in carbohydrates. Instead, go for grilled chicken or baked fish with lots of greens and veggies.

6. Tortillas

If you’re dining at a Mexican restaurant, it’s common to find tacos, burritos, and quesadillas all enveloped inside tortillas. This high-carb component should be avoided just as much as the Mexican rice on the side. If you can’t order a low-carb option like a taco salad, order soft tacos and only eat the filling that’s inside of the tacos.

7. French Fries

This high-carb starch is usually offered with entrées like burgers and sandwiches, but you should definitely avoid them when you suffer from diabetes. The same goes for potato chips, which are also a common side to burgers and sandwiches. Instead, ask for a house salad or fresh fruit.

8. Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is typically loaded with sugar, just like some of the Asian sauces mentioned earlier. If you’re at a steakhouse or ribs joint, make sure you request the meat not to be topped with or covered in any barbecue sauce as this can cause a major spike in blood sugar levels.


Eating at Restaurants with Diabetes. (2017, October 23). Retrieved April 11, 2018, from http://dlife.com/eating-restaurants-diabetes/
Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.