Healthy Fast Food Options for Diabetes

food for diabetes

Find out the best fast food options to choose when you have diabetes

Fast food is notoriously high in calories, fat, and sodium, all things that people with diabetes should avoid. That poses a problem because fast food restaurants have become an integral part of our busy lifestyle. Whether you are rushing to cheer on your kid’s soccer game or grabbing a quick bite between meetings, odds are good that you will be visiting a fast food restaurant in the next week or two. Fortunately, it is now possible to find healthy fast food for diabetes at virtually every chain, provided you pay attention to how your food is prepared, seasoned, and served.  We have some suggestions that will help.

Healthy fast food for diabetes

Many of the standard menu choices at fast food restaurants are loaded with added sugar, saturated fats, and empty calories. A regular diet of these menu options can lead to weight gain, increase your chance of stroke or heart-related complications, and make it difficult to maintain steady blood glucose levels.  Some of the things you can do to make fast food menu items a little healthier include:

  • Avoid food preparation methods that add extra fat or calories
  • Choose grilled over fried
  • Ask for condiments on the side
  • Choose catsup, mustard, or BBQ sauce instead of creamy sauces and dressings (mayo and Ranch)
  • Watch portion sizes
  • Choose whole grain buns and wraps

When you have diabetes, your meals should be low in carbs, sodium, and saturated fats. They should be less than 500 calories. We’ve put together a list of foods for diabetics to help you make healthier choices when you dine at fast food restaurants:

Grilled chicken

Choosing grilled chicken and fish over fried is a great low fat, low-carb fast food option that is ideal for individuals with diabetes. Most fast food restaurants offer at least one or two grilled menu items, and even Kentucky Fried Chicken now has a grilled chicken option along with their traditionally fried foods.

Green Salad

You can find delicious, healthy salads at almost every fast food restaurant by now. Many of these salads are extremely filling, more so than you might expect.  Get your dressing on the side and choose vinaigrette or honey mustard dressing instead of creamy ranch.


Chili with beans is one of the healthiest fast foods for diabetics. Beans and legumes are great sources of protein and fiber, which can help maintain steady blood glucose levels. Leave off the cheese and crackers to enjoy a low calorie healthy meal that is just 310 calories.

Healthy side dishes

Skip the fries and onion rings – these side dishes are filled with empty calories, fat, and sodium that can increase the chance of diabetes complications. Choose healthy side dishes such as green beans, fruit, baked or mashed potatoes, or coleslaw.

Healthy dessert choices

Many fast food dessert options such as cinnamon buns, pie, shakes, and ice cream sundaes, are loaded with sugar, fat, and empty calories. These desserts can cause blood sugar spikes that make it difficult to manage your diabetes. Choose fruit slices, a fruit cup, or yogurt parfait instead.

Fast foods to avoid with diabetes

When you’re trying to remember what foods to avoid with diabetes, these fast food menu items should top the list:

  • French fries
  • Onion rings
  • Fried chicken or fish
  • Soda and sweetened ice tea
  • Shakes
  • Ice cream

Make a point of choosing healthy fast food options for diabetes next time you dine on the go. It will make managing your diabetes a little bit easier, so you can focus your energy on the people and activities you love.



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