The Centers for Disease Control estimate that in America, over 30% of people eat at least one fast food meal every day. If you have diabetes, you may be wondering if you can treat yourself to a fast food meal on occasion.
The good news is, having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some fast food once in a while. And when it comes to taco cravings, sometimes Taco Bell is the only place that will satisfy.
Knowing what to order at Taco Bell for diabetics can be tricky. We’ve rounded up the best and worst menu options at Taco Bell for diabetics and important information on DigiVibe, a device that eliminates the pain of finger pricks that are part of blood glucose testing.
The importance of a well-balanced diet for diabetics
Just because you have diabetes, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid carbohydrates like the plague. In fact, when it comes to diabetes management, balance is the key. When making food choices, it’s important you balance your meals with some protein, fat, and, yes, even carbohydrates.
When it comes to the ideal number of carbohydrates in a meal or a day, there is no magic number. How many carbohydrates you need will depend on your activity level, body size, and current blood sugar control.
According to the American Diabetes Association, most people with diabetes get around 45% of their total calories from carbohydrates. For example, if you’re eating approximately 1,800 calories a day, you would aim for just over 200g of carbohydrates each day. Note that you’ll want to discuss your ideal carbohydrate intake with your doctor or dietitian and get an individualized meal plan to help you meet your dietary goals and needs.
The best menu options at Taco Bell for diabetics
From taco shells to tortilla chips, you’ll find a wide variety of carbohydrate foods on the menu at Taco Bell. Additionally, you’ll see a variety of protein foods like beef, chicken, and cheese on their menu.
While you may see an occasional sprinkle of iceberg lettuce, or diced tomatoes in some of their menu offerings, much like other fast food chains, Taco Bell doesn’t provide a wide range of fruits or veggies.
After combing through the menu, you may be wondering what can diabetics eat at Taco Bell? And what can people with gestational diabetes eat at Taco Bell? The best fast food for diabetics will be places offering lower carbohydrate options, lower saturated fat options, and even some plant-based options to help cut back on calories. Depending on what you order, Taco Bell may be able to meet some of these criteria.
Taco Bell provides all of their nutritional information for every menu item, including:
- Total fat
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- Total carbohydrates
- Dietary fiber
For breakfast, one of the better menu items is the cheesy toasted breakfast burrito with bacon or sausage. Each burrito has 350 calories and 38g of total carbohydrates.
For lunch or dinner, you may want to give a veggie, chicken or steak power bowl a try. At 460 calories and 41g of carbohydrate, these aren’t the lowest calorie nor lowest carb options on the menu. However, these bowls do offer a nice mix of protein, fiber, and fat, all of which can help balance your meal and support blood sugar control.
Another option to help satisfy your taco cravings is to order a chicken soft taco or two. With 160 calories and 16g of carbohydrates in each, this option won’t likely take your blood sugars over the edge.
While diabetics may enjoy a wide variety of foods, you may be wondering can a diabetic eat cheese? Cheese contains saturated fat, but that doesn’t mean that people with diabetes should avoid it.
While not the healthiest option, indulging in a cheese chalupa may be a choice if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake. For example, a toasted cheddar chalupa has roughly 470 calories and around 30g of carbohydrates and can be made with black beans, chicken, beef, or steak.
For a side dish, give the black beans and rice a try. The dish has 160 calories and 25g of carbohydrates, with plenty of fiber to help reduce blood sugar spikes.
What foods diabetics should avoid at Taco Bell
If you’re craving a burrito, you may be out of luck at Taco Bell. Their burritos contain a whopping 50g to 65g of carbohydrates and nearly 400 calories each.
It should come as no surprise for diabetics to steer clear of sugary sodas and dessert options. For example, a package of Cinnabon Delights contains a massive 930 calories and 104g of carbohydrates, which would most certainly spike your blood sugars to dangerous levels.
While many people gravitate towards nachos when enjoying a Mexican meal, consider avoiding Taco Bell’s Nachos BellGrande. Their Nachos BellGrande contain roughly 730 calories and around 80g of carbohydrates. A better menu option would be a side of chips and nacho cheese sauce which contains 220 calories and 24g of carbohydrates.
Personalizing your diabetic fast food meals
Before you dive into eating at fast food restaurants as diabetic, remember to check your blood sugar. DigiVibe is an affordable and compact device that delivers finger pricking without the pain. To learn more about how easy it is to use DigiVibe, and how it can help you or a loved one, check out these patient and doctor reviews.
And if Taco Bell isn’t your first choice, check out our guides for enjoying Wendy’s and McDonald’s with diabetes.
- Fryar CD, Hughes JP, Herrick KA, Ahluwalia, N. Fast food consumption among adults in the United States, 2013–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 322. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
- American Diabetes Association; 5. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019. Diabetes Care 1 January 2019; 42 (Supplement_1): S46–S60. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc19-S005
- Fuhrman J. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018;12(5):375-381. Published 2018 Apr 3. doi:10.1177/1559827618766483