It’s more than possible make a pit stop at the Golden Arches without blowing your diabetic diet.
With 37,000 McDonald’s locations around the world, there’s a solid chance at some point you’ll find yourself in one, looking for a meal that won’t send your blood sugar soaring. Good news—the McDonald’s menu isn’t all supersized Cokes and fries anymore (the chain actually discontinued those infamous mega portions in 2004).
Do a little nutrition sleuthing—and McDonald’s makes it easy to research nutrition information on their website—and you’ll find plenty of meal options that will keep your numbers in check.
If you have diabetes, you’ll want to aim for around 400-500 calories, 45-60 grams of carbohydrates, and fewer than 10% of calories from saturated fat per meal. You also want to look for foods that make a dent in your daily fiber goal: 25 grams for women and 38 for men. Keeping sodium to a minimum is also important. The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 2,300 milligram per day. Meals out are some of the biggest sources of sodium; so be sure to keep salt extra low the rest of the day any time you eat out.
The following six meals will help you stay within range of your diabetes meal goals at Mickey D’s:
1. Egg McMuffin + Latte
The classic breakfast sandwich paired with a milky coffee is a satiating, energy-boosting meal to start your day with. You’ll have the option to go with whole or nonfat milk for the latte; while some research links full-fat dairy consumption with a lower risk of diabetes and healthier blood lipid levels, the American Diabetes Association still recommends low or non-fat for people with diabetes. Whichever one you choose, the latte will deliver 25% of your daily calcium need.
Nutrition information: 440 calories, 19 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 265 mg cholesterol, 830 mg sodium, 41 g carbohydrates, 14 g sugars, 2 g fiber, 25 g protein
2. Hamburger + kids fries + 1 packet of ketchup
This classic McDonald’s combo is actually A-OK for a diabetes-friendly meal, as long as you keep the fries serving small. You can stay within healthy range by ordering a kid’s portion—or sharing a small order with a friend. Keep the ketchup to one packet; at 2 grams of carbohydrates per packet, the carbs can add up quickly.
Nutrition information: 370 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 650 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugars, 3 g fiber, 14 g protein
3. Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich + side salad
Opting for a grilled chicken sandwich rather than a fried one keeps the calories and fat down; adding in the salad provides you with nearly 100% of your daily need of vision-protecting vitamin A, not to mention fiber and texture. The nutrition information listed below doesn’t include dressing for the salad; opt for a low-fat option (they’re much lower in calorie than McDonald’s full-fat offerings) and keep your portion of the dressing to a drizzle.
Nutrition information: 400 calories, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 1130 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrates, 12 g sugars, 4 g fiber, 38 g protein
4. Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad + kids fries
Made with seasoned chicken, roasted corn and tomatoes, poblano peppers, and shredded cheese, this salad has plenty of flavor before you add the dressing—so much, in fact, that you could probably go without any dressing. Dressed or undressed, this meal will provide you with more than your daily need for vitamin A and more than half of your vitamin C requirement. All that, and there’s still room for a kid-sized fries!
Nutrition information: 470 calories, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 1150 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrates, 9 g sugars, 7 g fiber, 38 g protein
5. Double Cheeseburger + apple slices
If it’s a big burger you crave, opt for a Double Cheeseburger rather than a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with cheese. The reason: You’ll get similar flavor without all of the extra bread or beef. It is still a lot of saturated fat-rich meat and cheese, however—so balance them out with an order of apple slices on the side.
Nutrition information: 450 calories, 21 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 1040 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrates, 10 g sugars, 2 g fiber, 25 g protein
6. Chicken McNuggets (4 pieces) + small fries + side salad
An order of Chicken McNuggets is lower in carbohydrates than any sandwich you’ll get at McDonald’s—which means you can get a small order of fries all to yourself (woo hoo!). If you don’t mind some heat, request the Spicy Buffalo Sauce as your dip—it will add only 30 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates (by comparison, Sweet ‘N Sour and Tangy Barbecue sauces both pack 11 grams of carbs per serving). However, the meal is missing one thing: color! Add in a side salad, which adds 2 grams of fiber, not to mention vitamins A, C, and disease-fighting antioxidants—all for a mere 20 calories.
Nutrition information: 420 calories, 22 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugars, 5 g fiber, 14 g protein