Eating Out and Diabetes

Eating out and diabetes

Keep your blood sugar levels stable during social events

You might dislike the idea of eating out if you’re living with diabetes and trying to stick to a low-carb diet. You don’t want your blood sugar levels to skyrocket at social events. When you eat out you may encounter lasagne, double thick ice cream, roasted potatoes, and a myriad of other blood sugar nemeses that can be so appetising. You might also succumb to social pressure and eat foods you normally would pass along.

How do you enjoy your time out whilst keeping your blood sugar stable? 

In this article we’ll look at: 

  • Eating at other people’s houses
  • Tips for a bring and braai
  • Eating at restaurants
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels 


Eating at other people’s houses

You might feel rude when you eat a meal at someone’s house only to decline lots of dishes.  

When you’re invited to someone’s house for a meal, you have two options. You can let the host know about your condition beforehand or you can make the best of the food available.

Your host knows you have diabetes

It is probably best to tell family and close friends about your condition. Your loved ones would probably commend you for sticking to healthy habits and bettering your health. 

They can support you by adding low-carb dishes to meals or perhaps they will be fine if you bring some healthy dishes to get-togethers. 

Eating diabetes-friendly foods is crucial for your health but these dishes are also great for those not struggling with diabetes. Eating healthy is good for all of us!

Your host doesn’t know you have diabetes

If your host is not aware that you have diabetes, you can handle the situation by practicing good portion control. 

If you are, for example, served spaghetti and salad, go easy on the spaghetti and big on the salad. 

If you are served steak and baked potatoes, help yourself to a big steak and only half a potato. 

Follow the plate method when you dish.

The method suggests that you:
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables
  • Fill one-quarter with protein 
  • Fill one-quarter with carbohydrates

When if comes to dessert, you might need to decline or just enjoy a small portion. 


Tips for a bring and braai

The lekker thing about a South African bring and braai is that it is usually pretty informal. You can take your meat, possibly a side dish and snacks to the get-together. 

You’d want to:

  • Opt to braai chicken or beef rather than fatty boerewors or chops. 
  • Take along diabetic-friendly snacks like biltong, popcorn or low-GI cookies.
  • Enjoy some healthy side dishes like corn on the cob, baby spinach and chickpea salad, baked portobello mushrooms or low-GI braaibroodjies.  


Eating at a restaurant

Here are some tips for when you’re frequenting a restaurant:

  • When looking at the menu, be sure to look for steamed or boiled options such as steamed rice, vegetable noodles, and grilled meat or fish dishes. 
  • Ask the server for recommendations on nutritious, low-fat options. Many restaurants are experienced with accommodating dietary restrictions. 
  • Make a point to order additional side dishes of salad and vegetables, with dressing served on the side, to add more nutrients to your meal. 
  • If you decide to have dessert, monitor your portion size. Opt for options like a scoop of ice cream, fresh fruit salad, or sorbet. If you choose a richer dessert, consider sharing with someone and ask for two bowls and spoons from your server. 
  • If possible, plan for a walk before or after your meal to help maintain stable blood glucose levels and manage your weight.
  • Don’t feel pressure to finish your entire meal. Instead, opt for a moderate portion and bring the leftovers home.
  • If you are on insulin and you anticipate a delayed meal, make sure to time your injection accordingly. You may also need to eat something before the meal arrives.


Monitor your blood sugar levels

When eating out, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels. Take your glucose monitor with you. You can excuse yourself about an hour after the meal to check your blood sugar levels.

It might also be wise to invest in a continuous glucose monitor.  These devices measure your blood sugar levels in real time. Some of these devices can connect to a smartphone app – meaning you can check your glucose levels easily. 



Eating out with friends, family or acquaintances should be fun. You can still enjoy it even if you suffer from diabetes. You just need to be smart about what you eat. Follow these tips and enjoy your time socialising.


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