Urge Restaurants to start Serving Diabetic Friendly Meals - Very Few Do!

I am asking those who have hard time finding restaurants that serve diabetic friendly meals to write polite letter to restaurant home office and ask them to start serving diabetic friendly meals. Please explain to them that there are 40 million diabetics and another 40 million who don’t know they are diabetic. Other may have different figures, but you get the idea. It would be a win win situation as Restaunts would draw diabetics to dine in their restaurants and diabetic could go out knowing they could get get diabetic friendly meal.

Win Win Situation.

Try to find diabetic friendly products at McDonalds

Try to find diabetic friednly items at Burger King.

This is not Rocket Science.

Should be able to get sugar free ice cream at McDonalds
But will require that we persistantly keep asking for diabetically friendly secion of menu.



When I first saw the title for this post, I figured the writer was a vegetarian. It isfairly hard for vegetarians to find diabetic friendly food, most time the vegie dish on the menu is pasta. But for an omnivore it should be easy to find diabetic food in a restaurant: you can find thousands of combinations of meat/poultry/fish and vegetables/salad.The worst you have to do is ask to hold the potatoes and bread. But the restaurants you list are fast food restaurants which is an alternate way of saying “junk food”. Why would you expect diabetic friendly food there? Or anything healthy for anyone? You can find lots of diabetic friendly meals. You just need to go to a restaurant that serves real food.

I will probably get flack for this post such as “fast food is convenient and cheap”, but I do believe improving healthy habits is an important part of diabetes of either type, so perhaps if you can’t afford to eat out everyday you could pack your own healthy lunch.

Other than sugar-free ice cream, what would you like to see on fast food restaurants? It would be better to give them suggestions for specific items.

I avoid fast food, but anyone can order a burger or chicken sandwich without bread & they have salads. Those are diabetic friendly. I don’t have problems finding alternatives in real restaurants Anything offered that’s sugar-free will probably have malitol or sorbitol (sugar alcohols are in sugar-free ice cream) because they’re cheap ingredients & cause gastric upset for many people.

I don’t have any trouble finding food at restaurants - I don’t consider BK or McD restaurants, though, and I wouldn’t eat ANY kind of ice cream, fake sugar or not. Ice cream is high carb. The main thing that troubles me is having to pay the same price when I ask them to leave off the potatoes, bread, rice, or whatever other carbs they add to fill up the plate. Carls Jr does have a low carb burger, so I don’t have to throw away the bread, that’s cool. And there are salads everywhere.

I rarely have trouble finding food that I can eat in a restaurant. I usually get a piece of fish or chicken with 2 low carb veggies and a salad. I never go to any fast food places like McD or Burger King. I don’t think of them as restaurants.Actually, I didn’t eat there before I was a D.

If I get flack for this, so be it…

It is not the responsibility of restaurants, fast foods, etc. to cater to our needs. We each have to take responsibility for our needs, not the business owners. Business owners have enough hassles on their hands, just trying to run their business as they see fit, not the way everyone else wants them to, or demands (read that as govt.) that they do. It is their business after all.


I agree Trisha as far as the gov’t staying out of it. My only point of contention is that those buisnesses survive based on consumers coming to their buisness. If they do not serve what the consumer wants they will find themselves out of buisness. Not sure that this is the case with the OP post, but buisness owners best be keeping their ear to the ground to continue to meet the needs of it’s consumers.

Couple of issues with what you’re asking for -

I don’t have any trouble (as a T1) finding “diabetic friendly” foods. I don’t eat meat except for fish and try to avoid high-carb foods that I know make my BGs wacky. But I generally know how to order foods that work well with my BGs and also how to adjust (via my pump) to accomodate foods that are problematic. The BIG issue I sometimes have is accurately counting carbs in a portion, but even this has lessened thanks to wonderful iPhone apps like CarbFinder. Between this app and years of experience, I’m generally able to roughly estimate how many carbs I’m consuming and go from there.

Generally speaking, for T1 diabetics, it’s a matter of matching the insulin to the carbs consumed (along with taking into account other things such as weather, exercise, etc that impact our BGs). For me that is always the hard part - accounting for all the variables OTHER than food that impact my BGs. Food is generally the easy part because it’s so easy to calculate, even at restaurants.

One thing I try to do is stay away from complicated dishes at restaurants. I stick with salads, fish, and other simple dishes where I can easily discern what’s in it and bolus appropriately. I get dressings on the side and don’t eat things like bread. I look for dishes where the ingredients are clear and if there’s something in a dish that I know is problematic, I will ask it be withheld. Many restaurants are more than willing to accomodate simple requests like this.

You don’t HAVE to eat out. I bring my lunch to work every day. That way, I know exactly what is in my lunch, how many carbs I’m eating, and how my body will react to the food. I do go out for lunch occassionally, but that’s a treat, not a rule. If I need food in a pinch, I pop into my local Safeway or Giant and get a frozen meal or some basic salad items rather than straying into a fast food establishment. At this time of year there are so many wonderful fruits and veggies that this is pretty fun.

Finally, I don’t really consider McDonalds and Burger King “restaurants.” The food they serve is disguesting and unhealthy and I rarely step foot in one (I will get McDonalds’ coffee in a pinch, but that’s it). I do think such establishments should try to do better with serving healthy food options, but that will only happen with demand. As long as people consume the artery-clogging junk these places churn out, there will be no financial incentive for them to change. This is how the private sector works.

Maybe you’re speaking more to the T2 community. But even T2s have a choice. I don’t think anyone, diabetes or not, should be eating at McDonalds or Burger King.

Not gonna give flack, just a little insight maybe.

I agree with the title of the post, not with the fast food atmosphere.

I feel it is the responsibility for restaurants to cater to the needs of their clients. It has taken me 3 years to convince my husband, who manages a small restaurant in a small town, to start more friendly foods to all dietary needs. We now have gluten free options, small list, but a start. Which, as the word got (by word of mouth, no advertising yet) we have now re-claimed at least 2 families that used to frequent our restaurant twice a month. One family left because their daughter, who used to bring her own food in to eat with her family, got old enough and started feeling self concious about it. The other, just got tired of modifying menu items. Our chef always works with people who have special requests but a lot of people just will not ask.

It would be a win-win situation. I would love to be able to go out to eat and not modify the dish I would like. But, I also am not shy about being the pain to modify the dish. I just remember to tip according to how much a pain I am as well as how my server handles me :slight_smile:

Yes, that may well be true, MossDog. However, business owners set their businesses up, according to what they want to serve, and to the clients that they wish to attract. Also, there would be so many new costs added to what the business owners already have, that they would have to jack the prices up even more. Then people would raise cain about that, as well. Like it or not, the govt, at any level, loves the control they hold over restaurants / fast foods / bars, etc.

I am also a Type 1. Most of our meals are made at home, from scratch. We eat out maybe 3-4 times a month. I don’t care where we go to eat (except Chinese food - hate that stuff) , and I pick what I know to be ok for me and my meter. Even when hubby wants to go for Chinese food, I eat the same meal each time, as I know how many carb grams are in what, and judge accordingly for insulin.

I feel the same way with family and friends, as I do about restaurants. They serve what they want to serve, and I don’t see any point in requesting other food - just because I may or may not spike from it. Learning how to manage one’s 'betes to the situation, gives great satisfaction.



Since you and your hubby are restaurants owners, that is your right to do so. I do see, however, where living in a small town, probably does necessiate those kind of changes, that you mentioned.

I do one request at restaurants and only one … do not put sugar or artifical anything in my iced tea, and leave out those lemons. Since I was a kid, I’ve never cared for sweets, and lemon is horrible - for my taste. I do drink water with straight lemon juice in it, and nothing else. LOL!


I think this is entirely up to a restaurant owner. Commend you for doing this, but my philosophy is that if I can’t eat somewhere, my money isn’t going into that business. At the end of the day, restaurants are private businesses and who they cater to (or don’t cater to) is entirely a business decision. If they want business, they will adapt to the demands of their clientele.

The hard part would be coming up with a definition of diabetic friendly menu items. What I choose to eat as a low carber T2 is very different from what a moderate carb T1 would consider diabetic friendly. The ADA has their own definition of diabetic friendly, but to me it’s very diabetic unfriendly.

I have been able to get something I can eat at McDonalds and other fast food places by ordering a grilled chicken salad with the least carby sounding dressing. Dressings that start with honey won’t work but ranch and blue cheese usually will. If the label on the dressing shows more carbs than I wish to eat I just put less on. If you go to Subway just don’t eat the bread, whats left is just meat and veggies.

I am not asking every restaurant to change everything for diabetics. Not at all. I believe in free market. I would just like to see some restaurants offer perhaps sugar free yogert and simple stuff like that. I only go to restaurants that serve basically healthy food, but even crispers has 20 flavors of ice cream and would just like to see them perhaps offer a sugar free version as well. That is all.

But don’t you think that the consumer’s wants/needs change over time?

I agree about family and friends but you are there by the good grace of those family and friends and thus in my opinion have no right to ask/demand something different. When you go to a buisness you are there by the good grace of your hard earned cash and thus should feel entitled to ask for what you want. Whether or not they grant it is another story and would affect your decision to spend your money there again.

I honestly don’t have trouble finding diabetic-friendly food at restaurants. I ate at Cracker Barrel earlier this week and had grilled lemon-pepper trout, turnip greens, and unsweetened iced tea. The meal was great and had zero carbs. The week before that I had a steampot at Joe’s Crab Shack along with a large salad. Again, zero carbs. If I’m with friends who want to stop at a Wendy’s, McD’s, or BK, the grilled chicken salad always works for me. I may not have the choices that non-diabetics do, but there is still something on the menu for me, so BK really does let me have it MY way. :wink:

“But don’t you think that the consumer’s wants/needs change over time?”

Of course they do. But private sector is still private sector. The restaurant / fast food / bars / anything else, it is still their decision. They are the ones that pay their bills, and their employees - if they have any. There are plenty of places, that generally do have something, that anyone can eat. When we eat out, if the place doesn’t have, specifically what we want, we have coffee and go elsewhere. It is that simple. And yes, we tip even for the coffee. If the food was horrible, or the customer service was not up to par, that particular place is off the list, for future visits. So consumers do have choices.

My husband and I are business owners with no employees. He is a Master leather smith, and does very high end, custom made items, by hand. He has been in business for about 50 years. He can pick and choose his clients. He also has no qualms about telling someone to leave his studio. I, on the other hand, am a wood craftsman, and my stuff is for everyday folks. I do some custom work, but for me, that is not the way for me to go.

My point in telling this personal tidbit, is that, it is entirely the business owner’s perogative, as it should be, regardless of how long they’ve been in business, or the type of business they own. They go in the direction to which they are compelled, to follow their dreams. This is where consumer folks can walk out, not go in, or make their choices from the menus / items, that are available. As much as I hate Chinese food, I still get a little bit of it, so as not to insult the business owners. I’m not going to deprive my husband of something that he loves, just because I don’t like it, or that it may not be a good nite spike wise.


I generally avoid fast food. But I’m on the road a lot for work and sometimes I find myself in an area where I have no choice. I find that I can usually get a salad or order a grilled chicken sandwich without the roll. Not my ideal, but you do what you need to to survive sometimes. I generally avoid things called “sugar free” because they often have sugar alcohol in them.

Finding something to eat at a restaurant hasn’t been an issue for me. What really irks me is when they can’t give me nutrition info on what they are serving. Here’s an excerpt from the Federal Register:
The Affordable Care Act, in part, amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), among other things, to require restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items, including food on display and self-service food. Full text here.

I have apps on my android phone that list almost all major (chain) restaurants with nutrition info for their offerings. I usually know what I’ll order before I go in. However, I ALWAYS ask to see their listing of nutritional info. I did so at a local Panera Bread and got totally blank looks. When I emailed corporate, I got an apology and a phone call from the manager. Apparently they have all the info, but the cashier had no idea. He is doing retraining, which hopefully will help the next person.

I wouldn’t ask a buisness to change their menu for me, but I DO expect those that are required by federal law to provide nutritional info to do so.

This is a really hard ethical question, above and beyond the question of fast food. Is it unethical to sell cigarettes? Is it unethical to sell foods that are “unhealthy?” I think we have been seeing more restaurants make special efforts. We see restaurants add low carb, gluten-free and sustainable products to their menus. But I don’t expect McDonalds or Burger King, the Phillip Morris’s of the restaurant world to put a priority on this.

In the end, the biggest thing we can do as diabetics is advocate for ourselves. Make your wishes known to the restaurant. Reward good behavior by returning to the establishment. In the end, if we ask for “laws” requiring healthy food, then we will get the USDA and ADA picture of health, a high carb low fat diet, not exactly what we would consider diabetic friendly. We have to be careful what we ask for.