Diabetes and Fast-Food Choices

Managing means managing multiple meals and snacks throughout the day, ideally by planning ahead and eating as much homemade food as possible to control calories, carbs, and sugar. This can be a challenge if you have diabetes, given that you must eat regularly in order to keep under control: Real life simply doesn't allow for every to be made from scratch at home.

This means that sometimes fast food is the only option—but it's not necessarily a bad option despite having the reputation for being heavy on carbs, saturated fat, and added sugar. If you do your homework and choose wisely, you easily can include these convenient offerings in your overall diabetes eating plan.

Unless you've been newly diagnosed with diabetes, chances are you're already incorporating these standard rules for managing what you eat throughout the day to and, if you need to, . If not, they'll help you make smart fast food choices; if so, they're always worth reviewing.

Whether you have a hankering for Tex Mex takeout, a yen for sushi, crave a burger, or are forced to grab something from the nearest convenience store at snack time, having a sense of the best and worst options can help you stick to your diabetes diet plan, keep your blood sugar levels from zigzagging, and contribute to an overall healthy diet.

Supersized burgers, fries, and milkshakes are the mainstays of popular spots like Wendy's, McDonald's, and Burger King. None are ideal choices if you have diabetes, but most fast food chains now offer items that are healthier and will fit nicely into a diabetes eating plan.

One advantage with restaurants like Subway and Quiznos is that you have the option to build your own sandwich, making it easier to select ingredients that are diabetes-friendly and to your liking.

In general, poultry is a smart choice while following a diabetes-friendly diet—except when it's breaded or dipped in flour and fried.

This version adds not just carbs but saturated fat and calories as well to menu items at restaurants like KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and Popeyes.

White is a staple of Asian cuisines, but it's a heavy source of carbs. When visiting American Chinese establishments such as Panda Express, focus on vegetables and non-breaded proteins.

Tex-Mex fast food has a reputation for featuring deep-fried tortillas with cheesy, greasy ingredients. However, the two most popular restaurants in this category, Taco Bell and Chipotle, offer plenty of diabetes-friendly alternatives. One option: Bowls containing ingredients that would otherwise be folded into a tortilla.


Starbucks, Dunkin', and an array of similar coffee and pastry chains serve a range of items that don't sync up with eating (or drinking) well for those with diabetes: sugary coffee drinks and carb-laden pastries abound. But most also offer options that are safe for people watching their carbs and fat intake.

This popular lunch and breakfast spot is unique in the breadth of its breakfast and lunch menus—not to mention its bakery items—that are generally off-limits for people with diabetes. But Panera also offers plenty of diabetes-appropriate options.