Can I eat tacos if I have diabetes?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can eat tacos if you have diabetes. Tacos can be part of a healthy, balanced diet for people with diabetes when prepared properly. The key is to choose low carb tortillas or shells, limit high fat toppings, load up on veggie fillings like tomatoes, lettuce, beans, avoid sugary salsas or sauces, and watch your portion sizes. With careful planning and smart substitutions, tacos can be a tasty meal option when managing diabetes.

Are Tacos OK for Diabetics?

Tacos are often thought of as an indulgent food due to their association with fast food restaurants, loaded with calories, fat, refined carbs, and sodium. However, tacos can actually be a nutritious meal choice for people with diabetes when made with fresh, whole food ingredients at home. The tortilla or taco shell provides carbohydrates, while fillings of lean protein, veggies, beans, and salsa add nutrition without spiking blood sugar levels.

The main considerations for diabetics when eating tacos are:

  • Choose whole grain or low carb tortillas/shells – corn, flour, lettuce wraps, or bowls
  • Limit high fat meats like ground beef, instead opt for grilled chicken, shrimp, or fish
  • Load up on non-starchy veggies like lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, avocado
  • Add fiber from black beans, kidney beans, brown rice
  • Avoid high sugar jarred salsas, stick to fresh pico de gallo
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a protein boost
  • Watch portion sizes, limit to 1-2 small or street taco sized tortillas

As long as you follow healthy cooking methods and control carb counts, tacos can be a very diabetes friendly meal.

Best Low Carb Taco Shell Options

When looking for the lowest carb taco shells and tortillas for diabetes, here are some of the top options:

Lettuce Wraps – Using large lettuce leaves like butter or iceberg lettuce as taco shells provides a carbohydrate free, keto friendly vessel for taco fillings. Romaine, cabbage, or spinach leaves also work well.

Low Carb Tortillas – There are many brands of high fiber, low carb tortillas now available made with almond flour, coconut flour, or protein boosting soybean fibers. Look for options under 5g net carbs per tortilla.

Corn Tortillas – Traditional corn tortillas contain about 12g carbs each, but their small size make them a better choice than larger flour tortillas. Look for brands with no added sugars or preservatives.

Taco Bowls – Turning tacos into a taco salad served in a bowl eliminates the carbs from tortillas altogether. Just load up salad greens with taco toppings.

Jicama Shells – For a fun crunchy shell, peel and slice jicama into rounds and use in place of taco shells. Jicama is a fiber-rich, lower carb veggie.

Lettuce or Cabbage Cups – Separating large lettuce or cabbage leaves and placing them cupped side up can hold taco fillings tortilla free.

Best Taco Meat Fillings for Diabetes

When it comes to diabetes friendly taco meat fillings, leaner cuts of meat, seafood, and plant based proteins are best. Try these tasty options:

Chicken Breast – Shredded rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken strips, or ground chicken makes a great filling. Load up with Mexican spices.

Shrimp – Sauteed, grilled, or blackened shrimp packs protein without excess saturated fat.

Fish – Grilled or baked white fish like tilapia, cod, or halibut breaks up nicely in tacos.

Steak – Flank steak, sirloin tip, or skirt steak marinated and thinly sliced work well.

Turkey – Lean ground turkey breast replaces greasy beef in tacos.

Pork Loin or Tenderloin – Seasoned pork makes for moist, diabetes friendly taco meat.

Bison or Venison – Game meats offer lean protein options for variety.

Tofu – Diced extra firm tofu can be sauteed with taco seasoning for plant based filling.

Tempeh – Shredded spicy tempeh crumbles mimic ground meat.

Beans – Kidney, black, pinto, or cannellini beans loaded with seasoning offer fiber and plant based protein.

Top Low Carb Taco Veggie Toppings

Heaping tacos full of bright, fresh veggies adds nutrition and keeps carb counts low. These are the best veggies for diabetes friendly tacos:

Lettuce – Shredded lettuce or lettuce leaves make crunchy vessels to contain tacos. Romaine, iceberg, butter, green leaf all work well.

Tomatoes – Chopped tomatoes or pico de gallo add freshness. Grape or cherry tomatoes also taste great.

Onion – Red, white, or green onions provide flavor for minimal carbs.

Bell Peppers – Thinly sliced or diced bell peppers of any color make great crunchy taco toppers.

Jalapenos – Slice or dice spicy jalapeno peppers for heat.

Cabbage – Shredded red or green cabbage adds bite.

Radishes – Thinly sliced radishes offer peppery crunch.

Cucumber – Cooling cucumber balances tacos nicely.

Zucchini – Shredded or spiralized zucchini make fun taco fillings.

Mushrooms – Sliced mushrooms like portobello or white button lend meaty texture.

Smart Taco Toppings for Diabetics

Beyond veggies, what are some other smart, low carb taco topping choices for people with diabetes? Consider these options:

Avocado – Cubed or mashed avocado provides healthy fats.

Greek Yogurt – Plain Greek yogurt replaces sour cream with a protein boost.

Hot Sauce – Add heat without carbs from sugar-laden commercial salsas.

Fresh Salsa – Pico de gallo salsa offers fresh flavor.

Cilantro – Chopped cilantro leaves add flavor and color.

Lime Juice – Fresh lime juice gives tacos tang.

Queso Fresco – Sprinkle this soft Mexican cheese over tacos for a treat.

Nut Cheese – Use vegan cashew or almond based cheese for plant based tacos.

Avoid using heavy pre-made guacamole, cheese, or cream based sauces to limit calories, saturated fat, sodium, and blood sugar spikes.

How Many Tacos Can a Diabetic Eat?

Moderation and portion control are key for diabetes, even when eating healthier tacos. Here are some serving size guidelines:

– 1-2 small corn tortilla tacos
– 3-4 street taco sized tortillas
– 1 medium low carb flour tortilla taco
– 2 lettuce wrapped or cabbage cup tacos
– 1 overloaded taco salad

Ideally, a single taco meal should contain no more than 60g total carbs including tortilla/shell, fillings, toppings and sides. Spread carb counts out over 2-3 mini tacos instead of one huge loaded taco for better blood sugar control.

Pair tacos with sides like cilantro lime cauliflower rice, sauteed veggie fajita mix, small green salad, or sliced jicama to help fill up. Limit chips, rice, beans, and other heavy carbs on the side. Don’t forget to account for carb counts from tortillas, sides, salsa and toppings when calculating insulin needs pre-meal.

5 Tips for Diabetes Friendly Taco Night

Here are 5 great tips for enjoying tacos as part of a healthy diabetes meal plan:

1. Choose corn or low carb tortillas

Corn tortillas or high fiber, low carb flour tortillas around 5g net carbs are smart swaps. Lettuce wraps are great too.

2. Load up on veggies

Pile tacos high with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, cucumber – you really can’t overdo it on the fresh veggie toppings! Just go easy on starchy veg like corn.

3. Skip the fatty meat

Greasy ground beef can be swapped for lean turkey, chicken, or plant based crumbles. Grilled shrimp or white fish are great too.

4. Go easy on the cheese

While cheese tastes great, it packs calories and fat. Stick to a sprinkle of queso fresco or nut based cheese instead of heavy layers.

5. Avoid sugary salsas and toppings

Jarred salsas and sauces have added sugar that adds up fast. Make fresh pico de gallo or stick to hot sauce for flavor.

With smart substitutions and moderated portions, tacos can definitely be on the menu for people with type 2 diabetes. Just focus on quality ingredients and balance.

Sample Diabetes Friendly Taco Recipes

Here are 3 delicious and nutritionist approved taco recipes for people with diabetes:

Chicken Avocado Tacos


  • 3 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2 tbsp pico de gallo
  • 1 tbsp cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 small corn tortillas


  1. Heat corn tortillas in skillet over medium heat.
  2. Pile tortillas with chicken, avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime juice.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 232
  • Carbs: 17g net
  • Protein: 18g
  • Fat: 12g

Shrimp Taco Bowls


  • 3 ounces shrimp, grilled or sauteed
  • 1/2 cup riced cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp pico de gallo
  • 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Divide riced cauliflower between 2 bowls.
  2. Top with black beans, shrimp, avocado, Greek yogurt, pico and lettuce.
  3. Drizzle with lime juice and hot sauce if desired.

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 253
  • Carbs: 17g net
  • Protein: 23g
  • Fat: 9g

Vegetarian Portobello Tacos


  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cubed tempeh
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 romaine or butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 tbsp cashew cheese (optional)


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Saute tempeh and mushrooms with taco seasoning 5 minutes.
  3. Add quinoa, black beans, avocado, lime juice and heat through.
  4. Serve mushroom mix in lettuce leaves and top with cashew cheese if desired.

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 313
  • Carbs: 33g net
  • Protein: 12g
  • Fat: 17g

Should Diabetics Avoid Tacos Entirely?

Most people with diabetes do not need to avoid tacos completely. With careful carb counting and ingredient swaps, tacos can be worked into a healthy diet in moderation. However, there are some cases whereextra caution is warranted:

  • Newly diagnosed diabetics – When just starting out managing diabetes, it may be best to avoid tacos and other high carb foods until blood sugar levels stabilize.
  • Uncontrolled blood sugars – For those with very high A1C levels, tacos may spike blood sugar too much. Focus on stabilization first.
  • Kidney issues – People with diabetic kidney disease may need to limit tacos due to salt, potassium, phosphorus and acid load concerns.
  • Weight issues – If tacos trigger overeating or weight gain, they may be best avoided until healthier habits form.
  • Heart disease – Individuals with high cholesterol or heart disease risk may need to minimize tacos to control saturated fat intake.

For many people with well managed type 2 diabetes not dealing with these additional health concerns, an occasional taco meal made according to healthy guidelines is perfectly fine. Moderation, carb counting and smart swaps keep tacos safely in the picture. But those newly diagnosed or struggling with control may need to wait on tacos.


Tacos made with whole food ingredients like corn tortillas, lean protein, and fresh veggie toppings can be a nutritious meal option for many people with diabetes. Just focus on controlling portions, limiting high fat/sodium additions, and keeping carb counts reasonable. With smart substitutions and mindful eating practices, tacos can still be on the menu. Moderation is key, so occasional taco meals that fit into daily carb targets are perfectly fine. For those newly diagnosed or struggling with blood sugar control, it may be best to avoid tacos initially and focus on stabilization. But with careful planning, most people with diabetes can work tacos into their diet in a healthy way.

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