Healthy tips for eating out - Diabetes WA
 In Healthy Hints and Hacks, Lifestyle, News

Having diabetes shouldn’t limit your enjoyment of eating out. There are a number of ways you can manage your diabetes if you tend to eat out on a regular basis.

Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet, but not all carbohydrates are equal.

The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels.

Studies around the world show that following a low GI diet significantly helps people with diabetes improve their blood glucose levels. There’s also significant evidence to show that low GI diets not only decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but also assist in improving the management of diabetes.


Low GI Diets have been shown to:

  • Improve blood glucose levels by reducing blood glucose spikes;
  • Reduce insulin resistance;
  • Improve markers of average blood glucose levels (HbA1c);
  • Improve blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol;
  • Increase feelings of fullness after eating and reduce hunger between meals;
  • Increase the rate of weight loss, reduce waist circumference;
  • Help prevent weight regain over the longer term.

These are all important for managing diabetes and reducing the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

The good news is that the nutritional recommendations for people with diabetes are similar to the healthy eating recommendations for the general public, so there is no need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods. This helps make healthy eating easier and more inclusive, as friends and families can enjoy the same healthy and delicious meals together.

Here are some suggestions on sticking with low GI options when dining out.

Asian Meals

Asian meals offer a great variety of healthy options – you just need to be smart with your menu choices. There are three steps to healthy balanced menu choices:

  • Smart Carbs: choose low GI rice (avoid Jasmine rice), sushi, noodles or dahl
  • Add some protein for fullness – marinated tofu, stir fry beef or chicken, steamed seafood or fish, tandoori chicken or sashimi
  • Fill your plate with veggies (at least half your plate)


  • Clear soups with wontons and vegetables
  • Steamed dumplings
  • Stir-fry chicken or beef with a sauce based on soy, ginger, garlic or chilli
  • Seafood dishes such as whole steamed fish or stir-fried prawns or scallops
  • Stir-fried or steamed green veggies
  •  Smaller serves of steamed or boiled rice and fresh rice noodles


  • Fresh spring rolls
  • Tom Yum soup
  • Noodles in soups rather than fried pad Thai style noodles
  • Thai salads
  • Seafood and vegetable braised dishes
  • Stir-fried combinations of tofu, seafood, meat, chicken or pork with nuts, vegetables and sauce (avoid coconut milk-based curries)
  • Small serves of steamed rice
  • Stir-fried vegetables with Thai herbs and chilli


  • Pho soup
  • Fresh rice paper rolls filled with prawns, chicken or tofu
  • Clay-pot dishes with eggplant or fish
  • Fresh salads with rice noodles
  • Stir-fried beef or chicken with vegetables
  • Steamed fish or seafood
  • Stew or meat braised dishes


  • Tikka or Tandoori based chicken, fish or seafood
  • Beef, chicken, seafood curries
  • Vegetable-based curries with chickpeas (channa) or cottage cheese(paneer), fresh salads and side dishes such as cucumber raita, pickles
  • Dahl – a great low GI side dish
  • Basmati rice – make sure you keep to ¼ of your plate and fill up with veggies


  • Sushi with seafood, chicken or vegetables
  • Sashimi
  • Miso or Ramen soup
  • Teriyaki or Teppanyaki style meats or seafood
  • Shabu shabu (slices of beef cooked quickly in broth with vegetables)
  • Sides such as seaweed salad or edamame (young green soybeans)

Mexican & Spanish

Mexican and Spanish meals based on fresh seafood and grilled meats and salads offer lots of healthy alternatives. Avoid loads of cheese and sour cream

  • Bean and salsa dips
  • Black bean or gazpacho soup
  • Freshly cooked seafood or fish
  • Enchiladas (white corn tortilla filled with meat, chicken or beans)
  • Burritos (filled flour tortillas) and fajitas
  • Salad based dishes
  • Seafood Paella


Pasta cooked ‘al-dente’ is low GI – just be mindful of the serving sizes. Often an entree serve of pasta will be sufficient. Avoid creamy sauces and lots of cheese and stick to tomato or vegetable-based sauces. Load up on fresh salad and avoid deep-fried and crumbed seafood and meats.

  • Minestrone soup
  • Barbecued or marinated seafood dishes
  • Grilled seafood or fish
  • Entree-sized pasta with tomato (Napolitano), bean (fagoli) or seafood (marinara) sauce, without cream
  • Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach
  • Roast or char-grilled fillet of beef, lamb loin or poultry
  • Garden salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Caprice salad with tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella
  • Vegetarian pizza
  • Gelato, sorbet or fresh fruit

This article was reproduced with permission: GI Symbol Foundation.

For more information regarding Glycaemic Index, please click here.

Confused about carbs? No wonder, given the overwhelming number of diets and eating plans out there. Why not book in to attend a Diabetes WA CarbSMART Workshop? This 2-hour session will give you the facts on carbohydrates; why you need them, when to eat them and which ones are the better choices for you.​ ​ Find out more here.

Start typing and press Enter to search