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Let’s talk about diabetes-friendly meals at South African restaurants

What are diabetes-friendly meals at South African restaurants? That was the question one of our community members asked. When we asked South Africans with Diabetes where they eat out, the answers were clear: Spur, Kauai, Ocean Basket and Nando’s. Bridget McNulty tested them all out for her column this month.


Can I just say that this was the most fun article to write? How delicious to have to eat at four restaurants and choose meal options that are good for blood sugar! Let’s dive right in…

Diabetes-friendly options at Spur

I won’t lie – Spur was the hardest one. I have such a strong Spur-burger-and-chips association, that it was tough to see past that… They do have a few other options, though. The veggie schnitzel, ribs and combos and steak all come with hot veg or a side salad instead of chips.

I opted for a steak and salad, with mushroom sauce on the side. Luckily, my son got chips with his meal and didn’t finish his, so I could steal some – if I had smelt that delicious chip smell and not been able to eat any, I would have felt quite sad! I was also surprised that the steak had a sweet basting sauce on it (not sure what’s in that, but I assume some sugar?) For a drink, I chose sparkling water with ice and lemon (my go-to drink any time I’m out).

diabetes-friendly meal at spur

Verdict: No major spike from steak and salad, but I felt a little cheated because everyone else had burgers and chips…


Diabetes-friendly choices at Ocean Basket

My hunt for diabetes-friendly meals at South African restaurants took me to Ocean Basket next. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an Ocean Basket, and I was impressed! Mostly because there were choices of sides – panko zucchini, grilled veggies, green beans or a side salad (as well as all the carb sides – chips, rice and quinoa). There were also some interesting salads and bowls, which I liked.

ocean basket menu

I chose grilled sole with panko zucchini (courgettes), which was absolutely delicious. Turns out panko is quite high in carbs (I should have known this – it’s essentially white breadcrumbs) so I had a bit of a blood sugar spike, but it was delicious enough that I didn’t mind.

diabetes-friendly meal at ocean basket

My friend chose the lower carb option of grilled veggies with calamari – also delicious. We both had sparkling water with ice and lemon (you’ll notice a theme here!)

another diabetes-friendly meal at ocean basket

Verdict: Really delicious – bit of a blood sugar spike from the panko zucchini, felt satisfied.


Diabetes-friendly options at Kauai

It will come as no surprise that Kauai had a lot to offer when it comes to healthy choices. In fact, of all the diabetes-friendly meals at South African restaurants, this one was the hardest to choose because there were so many options!

kauai menu

Kauai also makes it easy to spot which are the healthier options because of their labelling. Red LC next to a meal means there’s less than 30g carb per serving. (Here’s a reminder about how to carb count, if you need it!)

kauai low carb

It was a hot day when I visited, so I chose the Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad, which was one of the best salads I’ve had all year. Totally satisfying, deliciously fresh and didn’t do a thing to my blood sugar.

diabetes-friendly meal at kauai

Verdict: Lots of choice and a fabulous lunch – very impressed.


Diabetes-friendly choices at Nando’s

I always think of Nando’s as chicken-and-chips, but they’ve updated their offering a lot! (Clearly, I need to get out more…)

nandos menu

There’s a pretty good selection to choose from, unless you’re fussy and don’t like chicken on the bone (like me!) I chose another chicken salad – The Grande Salad this time, which was excellent. Tasty, filling, fresh. Very little to spike blood sugar here – maybe the corn? But I didn’t even need to inject.

diabetes-friendly meal at nandos

Verdict: Delicious, fresh and satisfying. A good option.


The best diabetes-friendly meals at South African restaurants?

So which one was the best? Well, that depends where you go out to eat, doesn’t it? It’s good to know there are healthy options at all these restaurants, but I will say again that it makes a big difference if you’re eating the only healthy option. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out when I go out for a meal – I want to feel like I’m getting a treat.

What about you? Where do you eat out?

What to read next?

Free Healthy Food Guide – how to eat healthy with diabetes or to lose weight: This Healthy Food Guide shows you exactly which foods to choose (and which to avoid), as well as sharing which portions to eat.

Let’s talk about diabetes and food: Each month, Sweet Life co-founder Bridget McNulty talks about something personal when it comes to diabetes… This month she tackles diabetes and food.

How to interpret food labels for diabetics: How do you know if a product is going to be good or bad for your blood sugar? Once you understand what to look for on food labels, you’ll be able to choose the right products to help control your blood sugar.

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.