Top Diabetic Menu Options at Restaurants

Being diagnosed with diabetes may significantly affect what you can eat when dining out. Luckily, many restaurants have gluten-free and low-carb offerings, and several chains post nutrition facts online so you can plan ahead. Wondering what some of these diabetic menu options are? Here are my top low carb picks at some of my favorite restaurants:

  • Fresh-to-Order (F2O): This smaller restaurant chain, famous for their salads, is currently in the Southeast US with locations in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. Not only are many of their offerings low in calories, but they also offer a gluten-free menu with plenty of lower carb options.
  • Chipotle: This restaurant chain’s burrito bowl option allows you to pack more tasty meat and veggie fillings without being constrained by a tortilla wrap. You can even play around with their nifty nutrition calculator to determine carb counts and other additional information.

    Burrito Bowl from Chipotle (Thanks to Mike Saechang on Flickr for the image)

  • Olive Garden: When people think low carb and diabetic-friendly, they generally don’t think Italian cuisine, with carb-loaded pastas, breadsticks, and pizzas. Olive Garden, however, has plenty of lower calorie options on their menu (see “Lighter Italian Fare”) as well as a few gluten-free pasta dishes.
  • Jimmy John’s: I know what you’re thinking… “What’s a sandwich place doing on a list that’s supposed to be lower in carbs?” Jimmy John’s might be a sandwich spot, but they offer a great low-carb alternative, lettuce wraps. All of their sandwich choices can be wrapped in a large lettuce leaf or two instead of bread.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: Wing joints can be great places to eat for diabetics, especially if you’re into spicier foods. While BBQ and Asian-type sweeter flavors can pack some serious carbs, try their naked, lemon pepper, parmesan garlic, spicy garlic, mild, medium, hot, wild, or blazing wings with some celery sticks on the side. Here’s a full list of menu options.
  • P.F. Chang’s: P.F. Chang’s has several low carb menu options, a favorite being the lettuce wrap appetizer (minus the rice “noodles”, of course). Dishes are made to order so feel free to alter dishes to suit your diabetic needs. Nutrition facts are listed here, but remember that the numbers reflect everything on the plate including crispy rice noodles.

    Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s (Thanks to madmarv00 on flickr for the image)

  • Denny’s: Breakfast is an important start to your day, but also one of the most skipped meals. Breakfast foods can be pretty carb-heavy when you think of muffins, pancakes, waffles, and toast, but Denny’s has several lower calorie (and plenty low carb) options to help you get your day off to healthier start.
  • Red Lobster: Seafood can be both a low calorie and low carb choice of entrée. Red Lobster offers some great fresh seafood salad choices as well as portions of grilled fish, just make sure to lay off the biscuits and instead substitute for sides of fresh vegetables. Their Lighthouse Menu breaks down some low fat, high protein choices for you to enjoy.
  • Fast food: Whether it’s Burger King or McDonalds, Wendy’s or Arby’s, most quick service restaurants have low carb options on their menu if you look close enough. Some choices may need to be modified to create a lower carb option. Before chowing down, I suggest you skim over the nutritional information (most quick service restaurants have this available); order salads with grilled (not fried or crispy!) chicken, making sure to skip out on croutons and high-carb dressings; and if ordering a burger or sandwich, opt to go bun-less and unbreaded.

I sincerely hope this post helps you all make better decisions when dining out. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions and check out our new Pinterest board for other diabetic menu options!

About Lynette Richards

Lynette is a staff writer for DiabeticSeniors.com. As type 1 diabetic, she enjoys sharing recipes and shedding wisdom on the world of diabetes.
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