Traveling can be challenging and eating out with diabetes adds a new challenge. I am a diabetic and honestly, I don’t always eat like I should. We are on the road to somewhere nearly every weekend and sometimes through the week. That means we eat a lot of meals on the road. I love hamburgers, fried chicken and sweets but my blood sugar does not. I try to avoid buns and potatoes which is challenging when you are looking for quick eats on the road. And while I will have a salad on occasion, I really don’t like them. Luckily, some restaurants offer some decent choices for diabetics. One thing to keep in mind, even if the restaurant/fast food fare is low in calories and carbs, it still may have a lot of sodium. I am not a nutritionist but here are a few of my favorite chain restaurants for a quick bite.
This restaurant has been around a while but they just opened up in my area last year. Chicken salad is very low in carbs and Chicken Salad Chick gives you a lot of options. My favorite is Dixie Chick because I love onions. I usually order the two-scoop combo, three if I am hungry. I stick to the same choices–Classic Carol, Sassy Scotty or Olivia’s Old South.
My husband chose the Buffalo Barclay recently and really liked it. It’s a good choice for someone looking for some spice. He said the last time we were there that could eat their grape salad every day. It may have too many carbs for me but I am thinking about going for it one day.
I love the food but their customer service will always stand out in my memory. We live nearly a half-hour away from their Rome, Ga. location. A few months ago we got home and found discovered our order was wrong. We called them just to let them know but they went above and beyond. They drove our correct order to us even though we didn’t live close. We were so impressed. I am a customer for life!
The best meal is grilled nuggets and a side salad. I don’t really like salad so I get fruit and pick out the melons, which usually spike my blood sugar numbers. And if I am really bad, I get the fries and Chick-Fil-A sauce anyway. I am not a fan of wraps but they have several options on the menu. They also have salads if you like them. Chick-Fil-A tops this list because of their app that lets you accumulate points to get free food and often randomly offers freebies.
I love their grilled fish options and their broccoli is great. Unfortunately, the grilled items are served with the best breadstick I have ever tasted. I sometimes let myself have it anyway since I am not eating their delicious hush puppies. Of course, my favorite there is their two-piece fried fish meal but it’s another meal my blood sugar doesn’t like. They have a rewards program but I have not signed up yet.
I don’t think I could survive diabetes without Cracker Barrel’s grilled tenderloins, green beans and pinto beans. They always bring me the biscuit but luckily, I have a husband who can take that off my hands. Cracker Barrel does have salads that some of my friends say are great. Another low carb option–egg whites and turkey sausage. Breakfast is served all day there.
When I was following Weight Watchers’ points system one of my go-to meals was a grilled chicken breast and green beans—three points. Their grilled chicken is delicious but I am not a big fan of the green beans but I eat them. I just have to avoid that biscuit!
Wendy’s has some great salads but I love their chili. It has 28 carbs without the crackers but it only has 8 grams of fat, a trade-off for me. Their grilled chicken sandwiches are also great but I have to leave off the bun. Wendy’s also has an app that offers discounts.
Managing diabetes is all about watching the carbs. Here’s how I eat out with diabetes and keep it low-carb, at least most of the time.
I usually order a salad without that yummy shell. I do allow myself to indulge in some chips and queso but I try not to eat the entire basket of chips (believe me, I could!). When I am at fast food Mexican restaurants, I have been known to order tacos and dump out the contents. Sometimes my husband will eat the shells so they are not wasted.
Italian restaurants and pizza
I just don’t think it is healthy to avoid Italian food all of your life. While it seems impossible, there are ways to limit the carb impact. I try to plan my meals in advance so sometimes I will just reduce my carbs slightly at other meals and have a small portion of pasta. I can always take it home, portion it out and enjoy it for a few days. Let’s face it, most restaurants give you several portions. You can also ask for whole wheat pasta. This is what we always eat at home and I actually prefer the taste now.
Pizza is another challenge. Some restaurants will have the cauliflower or broccoli crust. But everything is about moderation. Just have a slice instead of an entire pizza. Load it up with veggies to get the fiber benefit.
Most restaurants offer low -carb options and at least a salad or salad bar if you want to get your veggies on the plate. You can plan your meals ahead by looking at the restaurant’s menu. My favorite discovery was at a Chattanooga-area restaurant. This cheeseburger salad tastes just like a Big Mac without the bun and carbs. And remember, I don’t like salad! If I want a burger, I sometimes ask for it without the bun, anyway.
Asian food is a bit more challenging. My favorite is sesame chicken and rice or hibachi. I have tried eating the chicken without the rice but that didn’t satisfy me. I usually just try to plan ahead and treat myself. On days when I can’t I just forgive myself!
My husband is a good man and he will often order a dessert just so I can have a taste of it. I try to be careful and keep it to just a “taste” but I sometimes get a bit carried away! Many restaurants have no-sugar options that are good. Just check the carb count if you can. Another option is a small serving of ice cream. It’s a little heavy in carbs for me, it’s a better alternative.
- Buffets: I love them but I have no self-control. I have to be very good for a long time before I will treat myself to a buffet. Maybe you have enough self-control but I don’t!
- I order salads to complement my meals. I was dying to try the Shepherd’s Pie at the Australian Bakery in Marietta. I just added a salad. I will admit to indulging in their Pavlova cake. It’s my new favorite dessert!
- I always try to walk at least a mile every day. Exercise burns off calories and carbs and makes my “mistakes” less painful.
- I am never too hard on myself. You may see me post some food that is not really the best for a diabetic. Many times, it’s someone else’s plate but sometimes, you just have to give in and enjoy what you really want. Even if I don’t burn it off with exercise, I don’t sit around and lament over it. I just do better.
What are some of your helpful tips for eating well while traveling? I would love to hear them!