Woman managing diabetes and eating out with friends.

Diabetes and Eating Out

Discreet, On-The-Go, All-In-One Glucose Checks

Whether it’s enjoying a celebratory meal out with friends or having a lazy night in with takeout and a movie, we all deserve to enjoy the luxury of eating a meal you didn’t have to cook yourself. Of course, if you’re living with diabetes, managing your health means making conscious choices about what you eat—and eating out is no exception. In this article, we’ll outline our top tips for diabetes and eating out.

Diabetes and Eating Out: Tips for Success

When eating at restaurants, it is not quite as easy to control what goes on your plate as it is at home. But by planning ahead, asking questions, and making smart choices, you can find options that taste good and don’t derail your diabetes diet plan.

Do Some Prep Work

Before going out to eat, take a look at the menu online so you don’t feel rushed. If you’re going to a chain restaurant, you can often use online tools to access detailed nutritional information in advance. And for those who have Patterns, they can explore this restaurant database right from the Patterns app. Regardless of where you’re eating, scan the menu for healthy preparation methods. Even if the dish you’re eyeing comes breaded or fried, there’s a good chance the chef will be able to prepare it in a healthier way, such as broiled, grilled, steamed, or roasted.

Plan to Eat at Your Usual Mealtime

Eating meals and snacks around the same time every day can help you maintain steady blood glucose levels, especially if you take diabetes medications or insulin shots. To stay on track, schedule your reservation around or just before your usual mealtime.

Build Your Meal Using the Plate Method

The plate method is a great visual method you can use to ensure you’re getting enough lean protein and non-starchy veggies while limiting high-carb foods that have the biggest impact on your blood glucose levels. According to the method, a nine-inch plate should look like this:
  • ½ plate of non-starchy vegetables (salad, green beans, broccoli, carrots, etc.)
  • ¼ plate of lean protein (chicken, turkey, beans, eggs, tofu)
  • ¼ plate of carbs (rice, pasta, beans, fruit, starchy vegetables like potatoes)
Having a solid idea of what you should be eating takes away some of the guesswork once your plate hits the table. You can always adjust the proportions of your meal by setting extra aside in a to-go container. 

Ensure Proper Portion Sizes

Food portion sizes at restaurants in the United States have doubled or tripled over the past two decades. To avoid overindulging, try to eat the same portion sizes you would normally eat at home. You can also ask your server if they have a half-serving option. If not, you can always ask for a takeout box to portion it out yourself.

Find Healthy Substitutions

Don’t be shy about asking for substitutions. A few swaps in sides, condiments, and toppings can make all the difference. Instead of getting fries or other high-calorie side dishes, ask for a diabetes-friendly salad or an extra serving of vegetables. Instead of a heavy salad dressing or creamy sauce, you can ask for a fat-free/low-fat dressing or lemon and vinegar.

Choose the Right Beverage

Sugary beverages, such as juice and soda, can cause your blood sugar to spike, making it more challenging to control glucose levels. Water and unsweetened tea are great options when eating at a restaurant. Drinking a large glass of water as soon as you’re seated at your table can also help you eat less if you’re worried about overeating.

Monitoring Glucose Levels on the Go

Routinely checking your glucose levels is a key element of successful diabetes management. Checking your glucose levels before and after meals allows you to:

  • See how that particular meal affects your blood glucose levels
  • Determine which meals may be best for controlling blood glucose levels
  • Detect and prevent blood sugar events 

Most people living with diabetes understand the importance of testing before and after meals, but when you’re out and about, it’s easier said than done. Dealing with separate lancets and test strips, finding a private place for testing, and properly disposing of materials can interfere with testing as frequently as you should.

Two great solutions that simplify the testing process are continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and automatic blood glucose monitors (ABGMs). CGMs are wearable devices that continuously monitor glucose levels throughout the day and night. An ABGM is a blood sugar monitor that automates the testing process, eliminating the need for you to handle separate lancets and test strips. This innovative approach simplifies monitoring and makes it easier to manage your diabetes.

If you want ongoing monitoring and don’t want to collect a blood sample multiple times a day, you may prefer a CGM. If you’re concerned about how a CGM would fit into your lifestyle, don’t want to wear a device for extended periods, or want the most accurate results, an ABGM could be a better option.

An All-in-One Monitoring Solution When You’re on the Go 

Adhering to both your diet plan and monitoring routine are important aspects of managing diabetes. While eating out can make it more challenging, it certainly isn’t impossible—especially with the right strategies and tools. Tools that are designed for convenience and simplicity, such as the POGO Automatic® Monitoring System, provide a simple, fast, discreet, and accurate way to check your blood glucose while you’re out and about.

POGO Automatic is the first FDA-cleared all-in-one blood glucose monitor with 10-test technology that automatically lances and collects blood in one step. The lancets and test strips are integrated into 10-test cartridges, so it’s simple to carry. You don't need to find a private place to test, keep track of multiple components, or track down a sharps container to dispose of materials. Instead, just press once and go!

Having diabetes and eating out can be stressful. But with a proper plan in place and the right tools, sharing a meal out with friends and family can be a simple and enjoyable part of your everyday life.

Ready to Have Freedom at Your Fingertip?

POGO Automatic is the only FDA-cleared blood glucose monitor that lances and collects blood automatically, in one simple step, with its 10-test cartridge technology, eliminating the need to carry separate lancets and test strips. Reach out today to learn more about how you can test your blood without interrupting your day.

 Jaclyn Owens, product director specializing in diabetes management tools

Jaclyn Owens

Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.


All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.