Many ladies still enjoy having takeaways with gestational diabetes and why not? As long as it’s not everyday then it’s one treat that you can adapt and still enjoy without causing high blood glucose levels.
Making the right choices with the type of takeaway you choose and sticking my 8 golden rules will help you make better choices when it comes to having a night off cooking and getting a treat but it’s all about being careful with your choices.
Many Indian or Chinese dishes contain added sugar. There’s the obvious ones to avoid such as sweet & sour, plum, hoisin, sweet chilli & BBQ sauce etc. But also be wary of dishes you perhaps didn’t expect having added sugar, like korma and butter chicken, crispy seaweed.
If in doubt then ask, many restaurants & takeaways will happily make the dishes without the added sugar in them for you, but if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Depending on what your diabetes team advises, you may try some takeaways and be led to believe that they give you even better results than your healthy GD food cooked from scratch⁉️
But actually, it all comes down to WHEN you are advised to test your blood glucose levels & the TARGETS used.
For many meals, a one hour post meal test will give a good indication as to whether you are tolerating a dish or not, however there’s a big exception to this and that’s food exactly like this! ????????? ??? ????????? ??? ??????? ?????? ????? and so that lovely low reading you got at one hour may be BEFORE your levels spike!
This is due to the high fat content of these types of meals. With this in mind it is worth testing your blood sugars at 1hr AND 2hrs post meal.
8 golden rules to eating
The best approach to food we have found is to stick to these 8 golden rules:
- Eat little & often, ideally 3 meals and 3 snacks a day
- ‘Pair’ foods so that they will be tolerated better, “food pairing” is a term that we use in relation to the GD diet
- Eat high protein
- Eat good, natural fats
- Eat low amounts of unrefined complex starchy carbohydrates at every meal
- Bulk up meals with lots of vegetables & salad
- Drink plenty of water
- Go for a stroll
Eating little and often, the key to stabilising blood sugar levels
Ideally we want blood sugar levels which look (if we were to draw a picture) like rolling hills, rather than huge spikes and crashes. The best way to achieve good control over levels is to choose sensible foods and to eat little amounts often. We advise aiming for 3 meals and 3 snacks a day.
Avoiding to eat is something that many mothers do when they are first diagnosed with gestational diabetes and are unsure or too scared over what to eat. This can actually have a detrimental effect on blood sugar levels. If a meal or snack is missed then blood sugar levels can drop low and when this happens the liver dumps glucose into the bloodstream to give us energy and keep us going. The glucose can spike our levels high and then when eating our next meal, as levels are higher than they should be, they spike even higher. Following a big spike, the body will signal the pancreas to produce insulin, but with gestational diabetes we may not be able to produce enough insulin or hormones block our body from using the insulin we have produced. Sometimes the body will overproduce insulin and cause a big crash in levels, which is the start of roller coaster blood sugar levels.
Use food pairing to make sensible choices when selecting a takeaway or eating out. If eating something that is higher in carbohydrates (starchy carbs, fruit) then add protein to make it more tolerable.
My biggest tip! Plan ahead
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN – if you plan your meals you won’t get caught out! If you’re eating out, get the menu in advance so that you can plan what would be your best options.
Eating out and eating foods from takeaways is always tricky as ingredients and the way things are cooked will vary dramatically from one place to another.
You may be fine with a certain dish from your local takeaway but having the same dish from another takeaway causes your blood sugar levels to rise over your limit. Stick to the 8 golden rules when selecting what to eat.
Be wary of having a ‘little bit of everything’
Remember, avoid ‘double carbing’ i.e. avoid having chips and pitta, or a naan and rice in the same meal as this is one thing that catches a lot of ladies out with takeaways! It’s no different to any other meal other than you are not cooking it. Make sensible choices and enjoy your meal.
High fat and the late spike in levels
Whilst takeaways are nice as a treat every now again, they should not become a regular part of the gestational diabetes diet.
Many takeaway foods are high in saturated fats and transfats. This means that the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream will be slowed down and you will most probably see lower blood sugar levels, but that does not make them a better or a healthier choice.
TIP: Bearing in mind the time taken for fat to convert to glucose in the bloodstream you may wish to test your blood sugar levels at 2 hours post meal, as well as at 1 hour in case you see a rise in numbers later. If you do not have a 2 hour test target, you could use the A 2 hour test guideline recommended by NICE which is to be below 6.4mmol/L
Try to use protein first and fat secondary to pair foods, looking for good healthy fats before choosing a greasy kebab to eat every night just because it gives lower blood sugar levels.
MENU CHOICES FOR TAKEAWAYS
The following information has been compiled through data collected in my Facebook support group. The ideas can be repetitive, but it shows which meals people achieved good blood glucose levels with. It is important to bear in mind that test times and targets vary all over the country and individual tolerances also vary hugely. You know better than anyone which starchy carbs are tolerated better by you eg. if you tolerate rice better than breads, then choose a rice as your main starchy carb and avoid breads. Likewise if potato is you better tolerated carb, then opt for potato as your carb over other things which you know you struggle with
- Lamb dopiaza, basmati rice (only a few spoonfuls)
- Chicken korma with half a portion of rice, more if I had veg or mushroom rice
- Chicken tikka kebab with salad and sauce
- Lots of vegetarian side dishes, literally a teeny, little bit of everything
- Mixed tandoori grill, salad, spinach and cauliflower and half a naan
- Chicken Korma, mixed grill, half a portion of rice OR naan never both, veggie side dishes
- Chicken Tikka starter with salad then instead of ordering a large main I have chicken tikka chaat on purée which is normally a starter but is normally huge and left me extremely satisfied. Then I had a spinach side dish and nibbled at some poppadom too
- Tikka masala or butter masala. Only a small bit of rice. I normally have half a poppadom too
- Tandoori chicken or chicken tikka, pakoras
- Tandoori mixed grill, tarka dhal and a chapati
- Lamb tikka saag
- Chicken korma
- Korma with a mixed grill starter, a quarter of nann bread and loads of salad
- Lamb saag and tandoori is great! Lots of grilled meat, less sauce as you can’t predict the sugar in those sauces. Little of bit of rice and or little bit of naan
- Big portion of Chicken Korma, with an onion Bhaji, a vegetable samosa, and a big side salad
- Mixed meat starter, half an onion bhaji, share a sag, korma & bhuna curry and 3 veggie sides. I had around 5-6tbs of rice with it
- Chicken korma but just the chicken no extra sauce and did my own pack of tilda rice. Had the spinach from a saag aloo (hubby had the potato) and I had 1 onion bhaji
- Lamb tikka saag with no rice side of veg curry and a chapati
- Tandoori mixed grill, stuffed green pepper with curried lamb and a chapaati instead of a naan
- Chicken tikka starter with a couple of poppadoms
- Chicken shashlick with onion bhaji’s and saag aloo
- Tandoori mixed grill (meats) and creamy tikka masala, small bit of rice
- Chicken shashlik with loads of salad
- Lamb dupiaza, a couple of spoons of basmati rice
- Basmati rice and korma & saag paneer
- 2 tablespoons of rice, 1/2 poppadom, and a few spoons of saag baji, lamb korma and butter chicken
- mixed starter (chick tikka, lamb chop, samosa, sheesh kebab, lamb tikka) and a lamb korai with 1/2 a plain naan
Beware of added sugars in curries where you may not expect them to be eg. korma. It’s often best to call ahead to ask for no extra sugar to be added
Chinese & Thai
- Chicken & broccoli with mixed chow mein noodles & beansprouts. Only have about half the noodles but as much chicken and broccoli as I fancy
- Mixed meat chow mein from the Chinese
- Beef in black in sauce, chicken chow mien and special fried rice only small amount of each
- Chicken egg foo yung with a small amount of fried rice
- Chicken and mushroom with a small portion of fried rice
- Satay chicken
- Satay chicken & chow mein
- Satay chicken, noodles instead of rice
- Satay chicken, mixed meat and veg with noodles / rice but only have half the portion of the carb
- Chicken or beef with broccoli
- Chicken or beef with black bean sauce
- any tofu dishes
- Egg Fu Young
- Stir fry veg
- Beef & green peppers in black bean sauce
- Satay chicken for starter followed by 1/4 of crispy duck with pancakes, (no hoi sin sauce) extra veg
- Thai style fried rice
- Chow mein & vegetables
- Chicken with cashews, a satay chicken stick and a few spoons of boiled rice
- Thai red curry
- Chicken ginger and spring onions tiny bit of rice
WARNING! It is advisable to avoid any form of sweet and sour, Kung po, hoisin or plum sauce as its packed full of sugar
- Chicken kebab, lots of salad, full fat mayo and either the pitta or some chips
- Chicken shish kebab minus the pitta bread with loads of salad
- Donner kebab with lots of salad 1 pitta and garlic sauce. No chips!
- Doner kebab chilli sauce garlic mayo salad chips OR the bread
- Chicken kebab, with salad & garlic sauce (no bread) but had a few chips
- Chicken or mixed kebab, loads of salad and garlic mayo. I only eat half the pitta
- Chicken kebab with salad and pitta, I don’t get any sauce and use my own full fat mayo
- Chicken salad wrap with a very small handful of chips (2 year old’s portion was bigger than mine)
- Chicken shish kebab with salad garlic sauce in a wrap
- Chicken & donner meat kebab and salad
- Chicken shish and donner wrap, salad garlic sauce
- Kebab meat chips and garlic mayo
WARNING! Beware of chilli sauce, ketchup & BBQ sauce etc as they can contain a lot of sugar
Fish & chip shops
- Large fish and small chips
- Fish and chips with salad. 2 small to medium pieces of cod. A handful of skinny chips and a large side portion of salad containing lettuce, cucumber, tomato and coleslaw. I didn’t eat all of the batter on the fish. Avoided the big lumps of it at the ends.
- Chippy fish and mushy peas with a couple of chips
- Large fish and battered sausage instead of chips
- Large fish and 1/2 portion of chips
- Fish and (a handful of) chips
- Mini fish and chips
- Large fish (batter removed) and mushy peas
- 2 Battered sausages & small chips
- Battered fish, peas and gravy but any amount of chips takes me over my target
- Fish with a few chips, and a dollop of mayo
- Large battered cod and mushy peas
- Chicken, small handful of chips, salad and mayo
- Cheesy chips with lots of mayo and salad
- Scampi with a large salad and mayonnaise
- Dominos pizza on Italian/ thin crust with chicken, ham, peppers and red onion and a side order of chicken wings
- HALF a medium dominoes pizza. I had a thin ‘new yorker’ (ham, bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms), extra cheese
- Chicken wings, 2 slices of large thin crust and salad
- Dominos thin crust pizza 2 large slices, garden salad, olives, Parmesan, olive oil, coke zero
- A couple of slices of cheesy meat one on thin base with about 4 chicken strips
- 3 or 4 slices of Domino’s thin crust pizza with as much meat as possible and extra cheese
- 3-4 slices of Dominos thin and crispy ham, cheese and pineapple
- Thin crust with ham and mushroom and extra cheese
- Vegetarian calzone with diet coke
- Thin crust pizza with extra cheese and extra meats, full fat coleslaw & salad on the side
- Zinger tower meal
- KFC 2 piece meal with few chips
- 3 pieces of chicken & some chips
- 3 KFC chicken pieces
- KFC Zinger tower meal
- Chicken from KFC with a couple of chips
- The boneless banquet, but not all the chips and I had 7up free and then water after
- Fully loaded zinger meal with chips and diet coke
- Chicken Caesar salad with 7up zero
- Fully loaded meal and 7up zero
- Boneless banquet, chips, diet coke and coleslaw
- Fillet burger, 2 pieces of original chicken – no fries, with 7up zero
- KFC, zinger tower burger with chips and popcorn chicken
- Chicken chicken n more chicken and I ate about 7 fries
- Boneless banquet for one
- 2 piece meal and only eat half chips
- Loads of chicken and corn on the cob
- KFC Boneless banquet for one
- rice box from KFC, with extra fillet, extra cheese, no BBQ sauce and extra mayo
- Loaded up with chicken and a corn on the cob
- KFC boneless banquet with corn and hot wings but didn’t eat the chips
- Original recipe chicken (quite a few pieces) and a portion of fries
WARNING! Beware of chilli sauce, ketchup & BBQ sauce etc as they can contain a lot of sugar
- McDonald’s salad with non breaded chicken
- Medium cheese burger meal washed down with loads of water
- Chicken selects on their own I then add cheese and salad when I get home
- Chicken selects, side salad & diet coke
- The chicken and bacon salad with a few fries
- Chicken wrap and fries
- MacDonalds chicken selects, fries and diet coke
- A big tasty burger with mozzarella bites on the side with a large diet coke
- Big Mac, bun removed, a few fries and Sprite zero
- Triple cheeseburger bun removed and fries
- Cheese quarter pounder, minus the bun & a side salad
- Mozzarella dippers and salad
- Chicken nuggets and side salad with lots of mayo
- 5 piece chicken selects with sour cream dip
WARNING! Beware of chilli sauce, curry sauce, sweet and sour sauce, ketchup & BBQ sauce etc as they can contain a lot of sugar
- Salad bowls (double your meat/fish/cheese, add guacamole, olives and seeds for extra pairing. Opt for mayonnaise, creamy caesar sauce, Chipotle Southwest sauce, garlic aioli sauce)
- 6″ wheat sub with high protein fillings, cheese and salad*
*Only try subs if your tolerance to bread is better than other carbohydrates and overload with protein and salad
- Nando’s 1/4 chicken with medium sauce. Corn on cob and filo coleslaw
- Nandos half a chicken chips and corn on the cob and peri Mayo
- Grilled chicken thighs with medium sauce, macho peas & coleslaw plus a few diet cokes
- Avocado and green bean salad, chicken and garlic bread
- Whole chicken with sides. Salad a few chips, houmous (shared between us)
- Chicken chips rice and coleslaw, olives and halloumi
- 1/4 chicken, peas and side salad
- Prego Steak roll – minus the roll, with a toasted pitta instead, a side of salad and coleslaw, grilled halloumi and a sparkling water
- Olives for starters, chicken wrap with haloumi and ratatouille and coleslaw
- Chicken in pitta with rice and corn on cob
- Half a nandos chicken, creamy mash, coleslaw, 5 pieces of halloumi cheese
- Nando’s chicken thigh burger, no bun, cheese and coleslaw and half the chips
A common problem when ordering takeaway dispenser drinks and coffees etc. is that full sugar versions can accidentally be given. Always double check you have been given the correct drink, or if you want to play completely safe, opt for sealed drinks instead.
Ice cream milkshakes
All I can say is walk the other way!
Ice cream milkshakes should come with a huge sugar warning sign on them!
These thick, creamy milkshakes can contain anything from 66g – 90g of total carbs for a medium or large serving!
There is a HUGE 90g of carbs in a large banana flavoured McDonald’s milkshake is the equivalent of 22 ½ tsp of sugar!!
Iced fruit smoothies, iced coffees & coolers
Unfortunately these icy, refreshing and fruity drinks can also be packed with sugar. Not such a big surprise when we know that fruit itself and even more so, fruit juice and sweet syrups can spike levels very high, very quickly.
- Costa Massimo Caramel Latte Cooler, 61g total carbs!
- Starbucks Tall (small) Iced Chai Tea Latte, skimmed milk, 33g total carbs
- Costa Primo (small) Watermelon & Strawberry Cooler, 36g total carbs
- McDonald’s (medium) Strawberry & Banana Iced Fruit Smoothie, 40g total carbs
- McDonald’s (regular) Caramel Iced Frappé, 46g total carbs
- Costa Medio (medium) Mango & Passionfruit Cooler, 57g total carbs
- Costa Massimo (large) full fat Caramel Latte Cooler, 61g total carbs
Lower carb iced/cold drinks to take out, but many still contain high carbs so beware…
- Starbucks Cool Lime Refresha, 13g carbs, or just over 3 tsp of sugar! You could just have iced water with a slice of lime instead? You decide!
- WATER! This is our top recommendation!! 0g carbs and no added artificial sweeteners! The best way to flush blood sugar levels through the body and handy for tipping onto a tissue when testing blood sugar levels…win, win!
- McDonald’s Sprite Zero, 0g carbs
- McDonald’s Diet Coke, 0g carbs
- Starbucks Venti Iced Americano, 4g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall Iced Cappuccino, coconut milk, 7g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall Iced Cafe Latte, skimmed milk, 9g total carbs
- Starbucks Grande Iced Cafe Latte, soya milk, 9g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall Cool Lime Refresha, 13g total carbs
- Costa Primo Soya Coffee Cooler, 16g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall skimmed milk frappuccino, no whip, 18g total carbs
- Costa Primo Full Fat Coffee Cooler, 18g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall skimmed milk mocha frappuccino, no whip, 21g total carbs
- Starbucks Tall skimmed milk caramel frappuccino, no whip, 21g total carbs
- Costa Primo Peach Iced Lemonade, 22g total carbs
- Costa Primo Summer Fruit Punch, 23g total carbs
GD safe Fakeaways
For some, the worry over not knowing is in takeaway foods can put them off having a treat. If you feel like this but would like to make your own fakeaway version of your favourite takeaway foods, then take a look through some of my recipes.
These recipes are based on the 8 Golden Rules and have been developed to achieve optimal blood glucose levels.