How to Order Fast Food When You Have Diabetes

Are you struggling to manage your diabetes while ordering from your favourite fast food restaurant? Managing a chronic condition like diabetes can be tricky, especially when it comes to making healthy decisions while on the go. Eating out has become increasingly easier in the era of digital ordering and delivery, but it's essential that we factor in our health and dietary needs when choosing what to eat. With this post, we'll walk through the steps you need to take for how to order fast food when you have diabetes.

Can Diabetic Patients Eat Fast Food?

Being diabetic doesn't mean you cannot enjoy fast food. It is mostly what you choose to eat. Of course, you cannot order anything blindly from the menu, but there are plenty of ways to turn unhealthy fast foods into a sumptuous and healthy treat for your tummy.

Since you have diabetes, you need to follow some golden diet rules. This includes eating many vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while avoiding or limiting sugar, salt, and saturated/trans fats.

Generally, a healthy meal for a person with diabetes must consist of 400-500 calories, with 45-50grams of carbs, ample protein, and less than 10% of fats with a decent amount of fibre. So, you need to focus on these rules while ordering fast food.

Note − Check your blood sugar level before eating and after two hours to ensure the fast food doesn't mess up your blood sugars. Since most fast foods contain fats and carbs, you may need extra insulin.

Understanding Fast Food Nutrition

Fast food nutrition can seem complicated but it doesn't have to be. When you learn a little more about the types and sources of nutrients, as well as how to decode nutrition labels, you will have all the information you need. Fast food is mainly composed of three macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Many places also contain fibre, minerals, vitamins and water as part of their nutritional makeup. Nutrition labels on fast food have additional information that tells us what percentage of these nutrients a meal contains. Finally, understanding serving sizes is essential to getting an accurate idea of the calories a fast food item holds and whether or not it meets your dietary needs. With these easy steps, anyone can become savvy in the realm of fast food nutrition!

Ordering From Burger and Chicken Joints

Go for small burgers and grilled chicken while avoiding double or triple-decker cheeseburgers, fried chicken items, and nuggets. Avoid the mayo and fatty dipping sauces for small or kid-sized burgers. To feel full faster, you can add some more tomatoes and lettuce.

Regarding side dressings, opt for carrot sticks and side salads instead of French fries, mashed potatoes, or onion rings. Go for fresh fruit or yoghurt instead of ice cream or pies for dessert.

Ordering from Sandwich Shops and Cafes

Sandwiches are generally healthy alternatives to burgers. However, with so many choices, you can easily order the wrong item on the menu. The best part about sandwich shops is that they give you complete control of what goes inside your food. 

Try to include more lean proteins and avoid carbs and dressings as much as possible. Many sandwich chains have diabetic-friendly and low-carb options, giving you more healthy choices without the headache of going through every ingredient.

Switch to mustard instead of mayo and eat healthy proteins such as lean chicken or turkey instead of red meats or meatballs. You would definitely want to avoid processed meats as they come loaded with sodium, which you must avoid at any cost.

Go For

A sandwich with grilled chicken or vegetables with wholegrain bread.

A large salad with grilled chicken with healthy dressings.

Avoid creamy soups and order lentil/bean/broth-based soup with vegetables.

Go for unsweetened tea instead of sweetened tea, soda, or coffee.

Some Best Fast Food Items for Diabetic Patients in Popular fast-food Restaurants

  • Subway − Veggie delite sandwich or salad with vegetables on the side

  • McDonald's − Grilled chicken salad

  • Starbucks − Chicken or protein bowl with beans and greens

  • Taco bell − Chicken soft taco

  • Panera bread − Lentil quinoa broth bowl with egg

Ordering From Pizza Parlors

Pizza has a bad reputation for containing calories, carbs, and saturated fat. The good news is there are plenty of ways to turn your calorie-laden pizza into a low-calorie healthy snack. Go for a thin-crust wholegrain base. Go easy on the cheese and skip the fatty toppings like sausage and pepperoni; instead, opt for vegetables or lean proteins like grilled chicken. 

A good option is to stick with a thin crust, order extra sauce instead of cheese, and add healthy toppings such as tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, anchovies, or chicken. Order a green salad, and avoid breadsticks, chicken wings, or pasta for the sides.

Rules to Follow While Ordering Fast Food

Count Your Protein

Protein is healthy and delicious and keeps you satiated for longer. Unlike carbs and processed items, it keeps your blood sugar in control. So, always go for items with lean protein sources like grilled chicken, salad, or a turkey wrap. This way, you can eat a delicious meal without consuming too many carbs. Remember, if you order a 500 Cal dish, make sure at least 45-60 grams of it include protein.

Order From the kids' menu

The portion size at American fast food outlets is crazily large.

The serving size of a hamburger used to be 3.7oz in 1955; now, it's 9.2 oz. So, you can imagine how many calories an average adult consumes while ordering food at a food establishment. The healthiest way is to order food from the kids' menu. That will help you control your portion sizes. For instance, a double cheeseburger at McDonald's comes with 757 calories, while a full kids' meal contains only 400 calories per meal, including a hamburger, yoghurt, apple slices, drink, and fries.

Opt for plant-based Items

Make sure to fill your plate with as many veggies as possible. Vegetables are high in fibre and water content, which makes you full faster while consuming fewer calories and carbs.

Some plant-based items from popular fast-food chains include −

  • Taco Bell − Taco salad with tomato, lettuce, black or pinto beans, avocado, or olive dressing.

  • Subway − veggie delite salad with vegetables or guacamole

  • Pizza Hut − Thin crust pizza with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, or other veggies as toppings

Some Tips to Keep in mind

For many diabetic patients, the hassle of cutting out their favorite fast-food items can be daunting. However, with a few simple tips, making healthier choices when ordering at fast-food restaurants can be effortless.

For instance, when it comes to carbs, try to opt for some of the lower glycemic index options such as legumes and vegetables; they are great sources of both fibre and antioxidants that provide longterm health benefits.

Additionally, diabetics should also pay attention to portion sizes when ordering; overeating even on healthy fare can lead to undesirable consequences.

Finally, alway order your meal without any sauce or condiments as these usually contain added sugar and preservatives that can spike blood sugar levels. With careful consideration and planning, ordering tasty yet wholesome meals for diabetes sufferers can be easier than ever before!


What you eat plays a significant role in controlling your diabetes. Although avoiding fast food items is the best thing you can do to keep your diabetes in control, fast foods have become such an integral part of our life that we cannot avoid them for longer. In the fast-paced and time-constrained world, fast food has become the need of the hour. They are readily available, delicious, and easy on the pocket. So don't be shy and order right away.

Updated on: 07-Mar-2023


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