During the pandemic, most people have turned to takeout food… But do you know how to make healthy takeout decisions when checking out menus?

If you look at it in a different light, eating with diabetes can actually be empowering! It encourages you to make smarter, healthier decisions when it comes to choosing foods. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Especially when you’re looking at the menu of a takeout restaurant and need to make quick decisions! Check out these tips for finding diabetes-friendly menu options:

Takeout Items to Avoid

  • BBQ — Barbecue sauce is usually loaded with sugar and slathered onto gigantic portions of the accompanying smoked meat.
  • Cream-based soups — No matter the number of veggies in your bowl, the health benefits of cream-based soups are usually lost to the fat and calorie content of creamy soups. Ask your server about a broth-based soup instead, preferably with vegetables.
  • Fat-free or gluten-free items— Surprised? The problem with these menu items (designed for specific diets other than people with diabetes) is that they often substitute in a whole lot of sugar in order to cut out the wheat and fat. That’s bad news for people with diabetes.
  • Tempura — Next time you’re ordering some sushi takeout, remember this: selecting any tempura options at your local Japanese eatery is a bad move for people with diabetes. “Tempura” basically means the item is breaded and fried, and you should always avoid anything fried.

Healthy Takeout Items to Order

  • Grilled— Grilling food comes with the benefit of not adding any unhealthy cooking oils or frying methods to your meal. Grilled chicken or fish would be an excellent option for any night out.
  • Burgers minus the “stuff”— The occasional burger is no big deal, but just be wary of portion sizes and extra unhealthy condiments or toppings. This includes ketchup, mayonnaise, and cheese. Instead, load your burger with veggies, like tomato, lettuce, and onion. 
  • Side salad — Just because your entree comes with fries or a potato doesn’t mean you can’t substitute a healthier option. Ask your server for a vegetable or side salad, and avoid unhealthy creamy dressings.
  • Unprocessed meats — If you’re craving a tasty sandwich, be sure to stick with carved deli-style meat rather than processed options like salami or bologna.

For more general strategies on eating out while managing diabetes, check out this helpful article from the Mayo Clinic. Remember, eating a diabetes-friendly diet is manageable and it’s all about balance. Reach out to your dietician or provider for more information.


Managing your diet with diabetes can seem difficult but it can actually help encourage you to make smarter dietary decisions that you otherwise wouldn’t! So next time you get takeout, try these healthy tips: Remember to avoid sugary sauces (like BBQ), cream-based soups, and fried foods. Plus, try to reach for grilled meat, unprocessed meat, and salads for sides.

Disclaimer Statement: This is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. For individual medical advice, contact your healthcare practitioner.