Restaurant Tips

My daughter was dx just a few weeks ago. My wife had a commitment last night and my daughter wanted to go out to eat. Her choice of restaurant was Carrabbas. I checked with the company’s website before heading out and saw that they had carb info availabe. ( I should have just printed the info out but we are learning). We get to the restaurant and ask the waitress for a nutritional guide. She asked the manager and he sent back the message that it was only available online. I asked if he could print it out for me but he was too busy. Fortunately, I had a laptop in the car with wireless access so I was able to go to the parking lot and get the information I needed for covering.

I am sure this has been addressed many times, but for those of us new to this any tips on regarding restaurants would be greatly appreciated. Are there national chains that deserve to be commended for their efforts in this area and are there other chains like the one that I experienced last night? Her favorite fast food restaurant is Chick Fil A and they are great at providing information.

Thanks for any input

My suggestion would be to skip the fast food chains. They serve food that is very unhealthy, filled with hidden sugars and carbs. I personally would not trust their list if they had one. If eating healthy is a goal, fast food places aren’t the place to do it! I would advise going to independent restaurants that are known for serving healthy natural foods. I carry a list of basic foods and with time you get to know carb amounts and can estimate. I usually wait until my food comes to bolus so I can make sure what it has. It really helps if you learn which dishes work for you and over time this gets easier…honest.

My husband is a chef in a larger chain and they are very good at providing information, infact they do have a printed copy of their nutritional information available for you to take with you. We’ve found that some are good, some are horrible, and some are non-existent. I have a plastic pocket file in the car with copies of those places where we might eat that have the information available, then if we decide to stop and eat, I can have that with me. I’ve written many of the restaurants we frequent and gotten some response on their information. Sometimes you do need to ask, and then make sure that you thank them, as it does cost big bucks to go through every item on the menu and figure those things out; they appreciate the thanks.

For those places that might be local locations only, you take your chances. However, the good news is if they are local, you can pretty much guess what is in the items and be correct. Just watch for words like fat, fried, etc and stay away from those. You want to order grilled or ask for meat grilled rather than fried. Dressings on the side, and watch for hidden sugars. We all slip up sometimes when eating out, and you have to be aware that this happens,and then make note of where you were, what you ate, and how it affected you (or your daughter) You don’t say how old she is, but if she’s old enough she could help make the folder up for herself, and for you…

I’m finding that eating lo carb isn’t just for diabetics, but it’s healthy for the whole family too.

Good luck!

I have never been impressed with Carabbas OK food for a high price. Yes you will find that places vary a lot in the available information. If pressed I can stop at any burger joint, and just not eat the roll. Fats and protein are the fuel we need, not carbs anymore. Salads for me at least are safe as I only use vinegar as a dressing, if they have balsamic, that adds about 10 gm. There is a book, Calorie King that will fit in your glove box very easy, and it lists a lot but Carrabbas is not there nor does it give you the fiber so that you can subtract. Wendy’s or Burger King has a nice site, you can add or subtract items from a meal or sandwich to get your info. Unless they changed, the only thing Outback gave was calorie count, and they only did that as NY said if you have a chain, you will provide this or you will not operate in the city.

I swore off FF chains in 1993, but Chick-Fil-A is probably one of the better ones.

I would invest in a good little carb-counting book and if you can find it a carb counting program for your laptop. Using these types of references will help you get a handle on counting carbs when you don’t have access to the info at your fingertips. IOW, you begin to program your brain to “run in the background” when its mealtime.

Fair Winds,

I can do fast food chains relatively well with the help of either of these two websites: Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone and Calorie King.

But restaurants are notorious for not providing the information (no matter how you ask) or for lying about the stats. Whatever you think the carb count is, double it. Last night I had a very successful meal at Blue Mesa. I counted the 30g of chips I thought I was eating as 60g, and then took enough insulin to cover 100g of carb beyond that, even though I was eating essentially a piece of bread and some basted meat on skewers, plus a little corn on the cob. My post-meal never went above 130 mg/dL. I ate at Cheesecake Factory one night and counted a bowl of pasta as 90g when I found out later it was over 170g worth. That was a rough night.

Continue to go out, by all means, but watch the post-meal numbers to learn how you miscalculated. In the future, try something different. It takes most of us many tries to get a single meal right.

In the end you have to be able to estimate by eye. Even in the fast food places that have good info available, the person preparing the order doesn’t weigh the food, so being off 30 or 40% is easy. This is especially true with fries or pasta servings. Where the nutrition info is accurate is usually things like burger sandwiches or breakfast sandwiches which use factory prepared rolls and patties. In a burger place, I find ordering two burgers is often more reliable than ordering a burger and fries because the carb count on fries is so unreliable unless you bring your own scale.

I find the printed and omnibus resources do not always have complete data for fast-food and chain restaurants; however, some restaurants provide nutritional information on their sites. If they don’t, I’ll e-mail and ask – but the usual reply is “there’s enough variation depending on locality and what’s fresh that day that we can’t give you an accurate estimate”.

In terms of keeping info all in one place, one reason I’m a paid member of The Daily Plate is that I can access its food database from my cellphone and also log my food in there. It doesn’t have anything specific for diabetes management – but it does track my food, exercise, and weight for me.

Thanks to all for taking time to comment.

Don’t know how old your daughter is & what she likes, but I order simple meals in restaurants to avoid hidden carbs. I ask for sauces on the side, grilled veggies, salads instead of potatoes, rice or pasta. I’ve been lucky that most restaurants I go to are very cooperative about adjusting entrees & substituting items. I put myself through college waiting tables & my husband through grad school by managing restaurants. The amount of salt, sugar & fat in restaurant recipes is staggering.

With practice, I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing at carbs by sticking to protein & veggie meals.

I have eaten at Carrabas and while they might have nutritional information on-line and perhaps even at the restaurant, you must always be careful. The nutritional advice is YMMV. It is easy to see how even with corporately controlled and prepared meals, your pasta serving could vary by a factor of two. Not exactly the level of control you want when computing your bolus.

What I have done when eating at Carrabas is to modify the meals, removing the pasta and having the entree served on veggies. They have always complied. In this way, you can reduce the total carbs in the meal dramatically and in this way any error in correcting will result in a much milder high or low.

My recommendation. If you want to treat yourself to a high carb meal, don’t put yourself in the hands of a someone else to define how many carbs are in the meal. Prepare it yourself at home and enjoy it with confidence. Always protect yourself at restaurants, they have no clue about the carbs in the food they serve and corporately most could care less about the need to control carb content and inform patrons.

The problem that I have is restaurants are adding new menu items and my program cant keep up. I used calorie king until everything I wanted to order wasnot available. It is a learning experience for all. Wait til you travel and try to figure how much is what at nonnational restaurants.

We don’t normally eat out. I have become a whiz at crock pot foods that are ready when I get home from work. I don’t agree with the suggestion to skip “fast food”. All of us with children would love to say that our children never eat fast food and that we all feed our children wonderful healthy organic blah blah. We all know the reality is that sometimes we run through the drive through. I have went on-line to every restaurant in our town (small town) and printed off the nutritional information. I have one in both vehicles. We keep a very detailed food journal and will evalute the foods vs. bg numbers once a week. This mini family meeting has been wonderful. We see how some foods change the numbers drastically and can then avoid the food or lower the amount.


We are keeping the same type of food journal. We had started a folder with nutritional info and it is a good idea for us to keep copies in both cars. Our goal, like yours is a healthy diet but reality does set in. On a separate note, we have an appointment this afternoon to discuss possible participation in an adult stem cell trial to see if it would extend the “honeymoon.” Should be interesting.


Hey… let me know what you found out about the adult stem cell trial. I have some conflicts with stem cell research. Religious and moral issues that I have to reconcile. I have been reading a bit about the research and it’s possibilities for a “cure”.

I am confused. This thread is about restaurant tips. What is up with the adult stem cell trial as a restaurant tip?

I want pictures.

Sorry…got sidetracked

omg restraunts have to be the worst thing to figure out but i have this really handy book it is caled " calaries fat and carbhydrate" not only does it help you with things without labels it has like 200 restraunts like mcdonalds. culvers, chiles, all kinds of chain restraunts its really cool and if you can’t find the book look up

it is the best sight for all types of foods my parents are really big fans of japanese food and we found how many carbs sushi rolls have lol hope it helps

o yah the book i just told you about has chick fil a in it with al; of the crb counts

I carry around a Calorie King book. We have basically at this point memorized everything she eats. There are a few sites that list restaurants and carbs/calories. Google Ashley diabetes and site that comes up will give a long list of restaurants and their carb values. Google Frans weight loss and that site will list a lot of info, though Weight Watchers based and carbs are not always listed on this one.