15 of the best and worst restaurants for carbohydrate counting diabetics

Counting carbohydrates is done by many people with diabetes, either as a medical necessity or to maximise control over their diet.

For those who require insulin, carb counting helps to match the amount of insulin required for each meal, or snack, in correspondence with the amount of carbs consumed.

This can be done with relative ease at home, once practised, but eating out at restaurants can turn carb counting into a guessing game.

Many of us will no doubt enter certain restaurants with a feeling of resignation, but this is not the case in all establishments, and some restaurants go out of their way to list the carbs in each menu item.

This may not appear on the menus themselves, but with a little research nutritional values across carbs, calories and fat can all be found, particularly on the restaurants’ websites.

Such is the importance of counting carbs for many diabetics, this information should be made easily available by all restaurants, but as of yet that goal is not close to being achieved.

We’ve taken a diverse look at 15 popular restaurant chains across the United Kingdom and assessed which are the best for diabetic carb counters and which ones could stand to do more for their customers.

Five of the best

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Pizza Express

A staggeringly large Calorie Chart spreadsheet is available on Pizza Express’s home website, listing information from the amount of calories in each dish to how much salt is used. Carbs can be counted per 100g or per serving across seven detail-packed pages of starters, main courses and desserts.

KFC

KFC’s website continues in this vein, offering a four-page spreadsheet of total nutritional detail across all their products. They also provide a nice, visual touch on their nutrition page, allowing users to scroll through individual meal items and list the carbohydrate amounts.

Wagamama

Japanese restaurant Wagamama is similar to KFC in their website design, providing a scroll page that can take you to a food of choice. Once clicked on, carbohydrate values per serving and per 100g are displayed.

Wetherspoons

Most of us have had a meal at Wetherspoons and probably enjoyed it more than we thought we would. While they don’t provide food that would likely rattle Paul Hollywood’s palate, they do provide a Menu section in which clicking on your dish of choice tells you the amount of carbohydrate used.

Pret A Manger

While many restaurant websites will display the menu that is handed to you in their restaurant, Pret A Manger delightfully allows users to click on the items from this menu. Upon doing so, a nutritional label appears on all foods, allowing you to deduct how much carbohydrate you will need to manage.

Five of the worst

  • Frankie & Benny’s
  • Chiquito
  • Bella Italia
  • Wing Wah
  • Café Rouge

All of these restaurants fail to list any form of nutritional information on their websites, with customers looking to carb count advised to search for a respective restaurant on calorie counting apps or websites, such as myfitnesspal.com or carbsandcals.com.

These website list, from restaurant to restaurant, either a full menu guide of carb information or a more selective range. They will, however, prove valuable in place of no recognised information on the restaurants’ websites.

Five that need to do more

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McDonald’s

McDonald’s are a mixed bag when it comes to nutrition labelling. When ordering food, it will be accompanied by a paper sheet listing nutritional information, but their website is anything but informative.

You’ll be able to find an online Nutrition Calculator, which does not work, and a guide on what carbohydrates are, but not how much is included in each food product.

Ask Italian

Ask Italian provide a Calorie Information menu, so adding other nutritional values such as carbohydrate amounts would not be a massive stretch.

Yo! Sushi

The well-known Japanese franchise lists information such as calories, sugar and fat – as well as which meals contain certain ingredients people may look to avoid – but has not yet added carbohydrate content.

Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne, a widely acclaimed fish restaurant, has a nutritional page that explains allergens to certain products, but no information in terms of carbohydrate content.

Harry Ramsden’s

Somewhat bizarrely, Harry Ramsden’s exceptionally lists carb content for its chicken range, but not for its infamous fish meals section.

Disclaimer: We do not endorse purchasing a hearty Bargain Bucket and consuming it all just because you can count the amount of carbs in it. It will be tonnes. When checking the amount of carbs, check the amount of fat. If both are very high, leave it, even if you can count it.

What are your experiences trying to count carbohydrates in restaurants? Have you found any other restaurants that offer useful nutritional facts with their meals?

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About the author

Jack Woodfield

Jack is Editorial Manager of Diabetes.co.uk. He works hard, plays fair and sleeps whenever possible. He has type 1 diabetes, doesn't mind being called a "diabetic", and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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