6 Tips for Avoiding Sugar in Restaurant Meals

6 Tips for Avoiding Sugar in Restaurant Meals

If you’re avoiding sugar because of a medical condition or simply to protect your health, eating at a restaurant can be very difficult. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your meal isn't loaded with sugar. Use these tips next time you go out to eat.

1. Plan ahead

Many chain restaurants publish nutritional information for their meals online. Check the restaurant’s website to see if you can find a low-sugar option on the menu. If this information isn’t available, call the restaurant to find out whether they can accommodate your dietary needs. Most establishments will be happy to help.

2. Watch drinks and desserts

The dessert menu is usually a no-go area when you’re keeping to a low- or no-sugar diet. Fill up on starters and sides instead of ordering dessert, or opt for a cheese plate to complete your meal. As for drinks, ask for water, seltzer, or a diet drink instead of soda. If you’re drinking alcohol, stick to wine instead of cocktails, which often contain high-sugar mixers.

3. Substitute salad dressings

Salad dressings are a surprising source of sugar in many restaurants. Ask for the dressing on the side, so you can pour only a small amount over your salad. Alternatively, ask your server whether you can switch out a sweet dressing for simple oil and vinegar.

4. Choose soups carefully

Chefs add sugar to tomato-based soups to offset the acidity of the tomatoes. Some of them even include as much as 16 grams of sugar in every bowl. Chicken broth-based soups are usually a safer choice.

5. Skip the barbecue sauce

Barbecue sauce is delicious, but also very high in sugar. Avoid ribs and other meats that have been marinated in this sweet sauce. Instead, choose grilled or seared steak without sauce.

6. Opt for simple Chinese food

Some Chinese dishes are extremely sweet. Sweet and sour chicken, orange chicken, and any kind of teriyaki are some of the worst offenders. Lower your sugar intake by opting for steamed tofu, wonton soup, stir-fried vegetables, hot and sour soup, or steamed vegetable dumplings.

Although restaurant chefs like to use a lot of sugar in their meals, you can avoid over-consuming by making smart choices. If you need to stick to a very strict sugar limit due to a medical condition such as diabetes, be sure to call the restaurant in advance to check that there's a suitable option. In general, you can cut back on sugar by asking your server to hold the sauce or requesting dressing on the side of your plate.


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About the author:

Hannah Whiteoak is a professional freelance writer from the United Kingdom. She’s been writing full-time for roughly five years and specializes in science and health topics.