January 12, 2022

Worst Restaurant Meals For People With Diabetes

These are some of the worst restaurant meals for those living with diabetes. Here are 15 meals to avoid when you eat out. Learn more.

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Worst Restaurant Meals

Home / Living with Diabetes / Worst Restaurant Meals For People With Diabetes

When you’re eating out, it may be tempting to indulge in dishes that are less healthy than what you would cook at home. However, it’s still crucial to keep your dietary needs in mind – especially if you’re managing type 1 or type 2 diabetes. After all, diabetes is one of the most prominent causes of death in the United States.

Fortunately, you can still enjoy eating at your restaurant of choice without throwing your blood sugar out of balance or increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. An excellent way to accomplish this is knowing what foods to avoid. Here, you’ll find US MED’s list of 15 restaurant meals to stay far away from if you’re concerned about managing or preventing diabetes.

The 15 Unhealthiest Meals for Diabetics

1. Cheesecake Factory Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic

As a rule of thumb, a restaurant named after cheesecake won’t be the most diet-friendly place in town. Still, some items on this chain’s menu are healthier than others. For example, this dish isn’t just high in carbs – it contains 153 grams of carbohydrates! And that’s not even taking its 123 grams of fat and 2,060 calories into account.

2. Olive Garden Eggplant Parmigiana

Olive Garden is famed for offering unlimited breadsticks – and the unlimited carbs that come with them. But some of the entrees here, such as the Eggplant Parmigiana, can be even more dangerous. Along with its 113 grams of carbs, this dish has 1,060 calories and 54 grams of fat.

3. Chili’s Crispy Honey & Chipotle Waffles

Sometimes, the numbers speak for themselves, and this is one of those cases. Let’s take a closer look: 126 grams of fat. 5,180 milligrams of sodium. 2,590 calories. 303 grams of carbs, of which 128 grams are from sugar. Please do not do this to yourself.

4. Applebee’s Classic Combo

Overconsumption of carbs is a clear danger for people with diabetes, but don’t go too heavy on protein intake, either. That has links to “nephropathy” – kidney damage and disease when your kidneys are already compromised. Applebee’s Classic Combo is a threat on both fronts, as it has 190 grams of carbs and 84 grams of protein.

5. Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit Topping

It’s not too surprising that an order of pancakes would be carb-heavy. Still, these have 111 grams of carbs. That’s before you add a fruit topping and whipped cream, which bring 75 additional grams of carbs to the table. Our advice: Get a small bowl of oatmeal with egg whites and veggies instead.

6. TGI Friday’s Signature Whiskey-Glazed Ribs: Full-Rack with Coleslaw & Seasoned Fries

These ribs contain 178 grams of carbs, of which 132 grams are from sugar. For perspective, the American Heart Association encourages men to eat no more than 36 grams of added sugar. Meanwhile, women should consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar daily – values considerably lower than the amount contained in this dish alone.

7. Red Lobster Shrimp Linguini Alfredo

Think the protein supplied by the shrimp will help cancel out the 105 grams of carbs this dish contains? Think again.

8. California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Pizza

Whether or not you’re a fan of California-style pizza’s unconventional approach to toppings, the carbs in this Thai Chicken Pizza aren’t worth the trouble. It has 156 grams of carbs – if you have diabetes, that’s way more than the carbohydrates you should eat at a single meal!

9. Denny’s Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast with Cream Cheese Icing

This dish is less of a meal than a dessert, but no matter what category it falls under, it’s a poor choice for people with diabetes. When you order the Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast, you’ll get buttermilk pancakes cooked with a cinnamon-crumb topping, covered in whipped cream, and served along with a pitcher of cream cheese icing. The result: 188 grams of carbs, of which 127 grams are from sugar, and a massive blood glucose spike in your near future.

10. Carrabba’s Rigatoni Campagnolo With Gluten-Free Pasta

Gluten-free foods are a healthy option, right? Not always, as this dish proves. It has 150 grams of carbs – what is important to consider is the portion sizes, the amount of fat, and the right combination of protein and fiber.

11. Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Asian Zing

An order of these wings contains 151 grams of carbs, of which 78 grams are from sugar, 1,550 calories, and 98 grams of protein. The good news: That only applies to a large order, which comes with 20 wings. By ordering a smaller size, you should be able to enjoy wing night once in a while, while keeping your diabetes under control.

12. P.F. Chang’s Chicken Pad Thai

It may look healthier than many dishes on this list, but the rice noodles included in this Chicken Pad Thai won’t make it any easier to manage diabetes. You’ll still get 190 grams of carbs, of which 50 grams are from sugar, and 2,730 milligrams of sodium.

13. IHOP Cupcake Pancakes

This is the third pancake-based item we’ve listed here, but it’s more than earned its spot. As their name suggests, these Cupcake Pancakes are loaded with sprinkles and covered with whipped cream and cupcake icing. As a result, a stack of four pancakes has 134 grams of carbs of which 63 grams are from sugar – which, by the way, is more sugar than the amount contained in six original Krispy Kreme donuts.

14. Texas Roadhouse Fish and Chips

For people living with diabetes, “comfort food” isn’t always comfortable – even if it’s relatively low in carbs. This dish has 14 grams of carbs, but it’s in no way a diabetes-friendly choice. You’ll also need to take its 61 grams of protein and 4,770 milligrams of sodium into account and also the fat content..

15. O’Charley’s Strawberry Waffle Combo with Ham Steak

This combo has 132 grams of carbs of which 45 grams are from sugar, but that’s not where its impact on your diet ends. Along with that, it comes with 83 grams of fat of which 36 grams come from saturated fat.

What To Look for Instead

Luckily, not all restaurant meals are this unhealthy – we’ve just highlighted some of the biggest offenders we could find. Instead of ordering any of these dishes, keep an eye out for menu items that:

  • Contain balanced levels of healthy fats, carbs, and proteins
  • Are rich in fiber, which can slow down the digestive process
  • Come in reasonable portion sizes
  • Make common-sense substitutions like replacing refined grains with whole grains
  • Include healthy side dishes and drinks

We Can Help You Eat a Healthy Diet

For people with diabetes, eating out can feel like navigating a minefield. By knowing what not to eat and what to look for instead, you can minimize these worries and focus on having fun with friends and family.

If you’d like to learn more about healthy eating and diabetes, check out US MED’s resources on this topic. We’ve put together blog articles about creating an ideal diet for diabetes management, whether or not the keto diet can help diabetes, and foods and beverages that contribute to blood sugar spikes. For the next time you eat at home, we also have lots of diabetes-friendly recipes.

Along with that, we can make it easier than ever for you to live with diabetes by simplifying the process of ordering diabetes supplies. When you need CGM systems, diabetes testing supplies, insulin pumps, or anything else, let us ship these supplies to you!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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