Fast food... with diabetes?

* As occasional selections – not every day. And definitely skip the soda and other sweetened drinks.


As a certified diabetes educator, Cheryl Marco isn’t a fan of processed, sodium-rich fast food. As a realist, she knows that most of her patients in the endocrinology division at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital will inevitably eat some of it. Marco says these menu items are among the better choices out there for people with diabetes:

Dunkin Donuts Egg White Flatbread Veggie Sandwich
With 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, just 290 calories and the magic word: veggies.

The sandwich has 39 grams of carbs, which Marcos says is reasonable for a full-course breakfast. She also likes the balance between protein, fiber and carbs.

For comparison’s sake, Dunkin’s honey bran muffin — a diabetes don’t — is 500 calories with 86 grams of carbs.

Au Bon Pain low-fat chicken noodle or 
garden vegetable soup
A substantial 12-ounce portion of the chicken soup has just 3 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates and 130 calories.

The 12-ounce vegetable soup has even more impressive stats, at 80 calories, 2 grams of fat and 13 grams of carbs.

A hamburger or a cheeseburger at Burger King or McDonald’s
Although fast-food burgers don’t qualify as “good” nutrition options, the regular-size burgers at both chains earn Marco’s qualified approval as being not entirely awful in a pinch.

Their fat and carb counts are as follows: Burger King hamburger (12g, 30g) Burger King cheeseburger (16g, 31g), McDonald’s hamburger (9g, 31g), McDonald’s cheeseburger (12g, 33g).

Don’t “supersize it” or add on hefty portions of fries with a “value” deal. “It’s so much about portions,” Marco says. “If you want that fast-food meal, get a Happy Meal.”

Weight Watchers 
dinners at Applebee’s
A complete Weight Watchers Cajun lime tilapia meal (4g fat, 31g carbs) comes in under 400 calories, according to the CalorieKing Carlorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter, widely recommended by diabetes educators as a carry-along reference.

Also under 400 calories is the Weight Watchers “steak & portobellos” meal (18g fat, 24g carbs).

At sit-down restaurant chains that don’t offer portion-controlled, calorie-conscious entrees, Marco recommends asking the kitchen to wrap half of your meal to go — before the server brings it to your table.

KFC mashed potatoes with gravy (5.4 oz. 
With 4.5 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates, it’s one of three KFC side dishes that Marco says are “surprisingly low-carb and low-fat.”

The two others are the 3-inch KFC corn on the cob (0.5g fat, 16g carbs) and the 4.8-ounce side order of macaroni and cheese (9g fat, 20g carbs.)

The downside with the mashed potatoes is that, being highly processed, they make blood sugar spike more quickly than the corn or the macs and cheese. “If you like them all equally,” Marco suggests, “get one of the other two."