Bariatric-Friendly Drive-Thru Eating Tips

bariatric-friendly fast-food

With our busy schedules and unexpected life events, sticking to a bariatric diet or a low-carb diet can get tricky. You may be faced with choosing the best item on a drive-thru menu from time to time, but this doesn’t have to derail your weight loss progress.

Our Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at Arkansas Hospital dietitians have created a list of bariatric-friendly drive-thru restaurant items and helpful eating tips to help you stick to your plan. Our experts are proud to offer nutritional, mental and physical support for life.

Note: BMI does not recommend our patients live off the list. This is for times when you find yourself in a pinch. Prepping your own food will always be a better option.

These servings are based on the outline for maintenance/lifetime stage. Patients starting off on this stage may make some of these options last for several meals.


  • Naked chicken tenders (optional: hot sauce packet)
  • Green beans

Tip: Try ordering a kid’s meal to save money; it comes with 1 tender and a side.


  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Green beans
  • Caesar or house side salad with light Italian dressing


  • Southwest avocado salad with southwest ranch (makes 2 meals)
  • Parmesan Caesar salad with Caesar dressing
  • Grilled chicken sandwich (no bun or smokey mustard, extra lettuce to a make wrap)
  • Kid’s hamburger/cheeseburger (no bun, extra lettuce to make wrap)


  • Grilled chicken breast lettuce wrap
  • Single steak burger with or without cheese lettuce wrap (no sauce, load up on veggies)
  • Cup of chili with cheese (no crackers)

Tip: Try ordering a kid’s steak burger w/ lettuce wrap and sub out fries for chili.

Back Yard Burgers:

  • Blackened or grilled chicken sandwich (no bun, extra lettuce for wrap, makes 2 meals)
  • Backyard grilled/blackened chicken salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette (no croutons, makes 2 meals)
  • Turkey burger (no bun, extra lettuce to make wrap, makes 2 meals)
  • Kids Jr Burger (no bun, extra lettuce to make wrap, makes 2 meals)
  • Side salad (no croutons, with balsamic vinaigrette)

Dairy Queen:

  • Grilled chicken BLT salad
  • Side salad
  • Rotisserie-style chicken bites
  • Rotisserie-style chicken bites salad bowl
  • Dressings: light ranch or light Italian
  • Sauces: wild buffalo or zesty queso


  • Black forest ham salad/bowl
  • Buffalo chicken salad
  • Cold cut combo salad/bowl
  • Italian BMT salad
  • Oven roasted turkey salad/bowl
  • Oven roasted turkey & ham bowl
  • Steak & cheese salad
  • Turkey Italiano salad
  • Veggie Delite salad (Add some type of protein: cheese, meat, egg etc.)


  • Roast chicken salad entrée
  • Roast turkey & Swiss wrap (omit wrap, ask for extra lettuce; makes 2 meals)
  • Creamy Mediterranean chicken wrap (omit wrap, ask for extra lettuce; makes 2 meals)
  • Roast turkey gyro (omit bread, ask for extra lettuce; makes 2 meals)
  • Roast beef gyro (omit bread, ask for extra lettuce; makes 2 meals)
  • Jalapeno bacon ranch wrap (omit wrap, ask for extra lettuce; makes 2 meals)
  • Side salad
  • Dressings: light Italian or balsamic vinaigrette


  • Grilled chicken nuggets (try a kid’s meal)
  • Grilled chicken sandwich (ask for extra lettuce instead of bun)
  • Egg white grill (Omit English muffin)
  • Lemon kale Caesar salad (omit packaged toppings)
  • Grilled chicken cobb salad (ask for no corn, omit packaged toppings)
  • Side salad (omit packaged toppings)
  • Kale crunch side
  • Dressings: Light Italian or lemon Caesar vinaigrette (limit to 1 packet)
  • Sauces: cilantro lime, zesty buffalo, honey roasted BBQ sauce (limit to 1 packet)

Note: Don’t get the diet lemonade thinking you are avoiding carbs. The amount of lemon juice still provides a significant amount of carbohydrates. (A large = 21g carbohydrates)


  • Choose lettuce or cilantro lime cauliflower rice as your base
  • Choose chicken, steak, or barbacoa beef for your protein
  • Toppings can include fajita vegetables, shredded cheese, sour cream (about 1 spoonful), (choose either fresh tomato salsa, tomatillo green-chili salsa, or tomatillo red-chili salsa), lettuce

Note: A bowl/salad should provide at least two meals.


  • Garden or blackened blue zalad (ask for no fried onions and toast, makes 2 meals)
  • Garden or blackened house zalad (ask for no fried onions and toast, makes 2 meals)
  • Grilled chicken sandwich (ask for no bun, extra lettuce)
  • Dressings: Lite ranch, lite vinaigrette, or Caesar
  • Sauces: original, tongue torch, insane, nuclear (limit to one 2oz cup)

Slim Chicken’s:

  • Grilled Slim’s salad (ask for no fried onion and croutons)
  • Side salad (ask for no croutons)
  • Grilled chicken tenders (can order à la carte)
  • Sauces: inferno, buffalo
  • Dressings: lite Italian or balsamic

Tropical Smoothie:

  • Supergreen Caesar chicken bowl (makes 2 meals)
  • Buffalo chicken bowl (makes 2 meals)
  • All American wrap (omit tortilla)
  • Kid’s ham & cheddar OR turkey & cheddar wrap (omit tortilla)

Cracker Barrel:


  • 2 Eggs + 2 turkey sausage patties = 270 calories
  • ½ piece country ham + 2 eggs = 280 calories
  • 3 slices bacon + 2 scrambled egg whites = 270 calories


  • Grilled chicken tenders (3) + 2 sides
  • Spicy grilled catfish (1 filet) + 2 sides
  • Hamburger steak (half of steak) + 1 side
  • Grilled sirloin steak (half of steak) + 2 sides OR just turnip greens
  • Lemon Pepper grilled rainbow trout (1 filet) + 2 sides OR just turnip greens
  • House salad with grilled chicken & buttermilk ranch (ask for no croutons, limit ranch to 1 cup)

Approved Sides:

  • Green beans
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Turnip greens

Note: You may add turkey and/or brown gravy to meats. Ask the server not to bring biscuits to the table.

Olive Garden:

  • Grilled chicken margherita (makes 2 meals)
  • Herb grilled salmon (makes 2 meals)
  • 6oz Tuscan sirloin with broccoli (makes 2 meals)
  • Grilled shrimp tossed in garlic sauce w/ side of asparagus (not listed on the menu)
  • Salad without croutons (ask for dressing on the side instead of tossed)


  • Cajun grilled chicken (the kind that goes on the pasta)
  • Grilled chicken fajitas (no tortillas, ask for light seasoning on veggies)
  • 6oz sirloin with grilled avocado (makes 2 meals)
  • Grilled chicken salad with 2oz honey lime vinaigrette (ask for no corn & black bean salsa)
  • Margarita grilled chicken (ask for no tortilla strips; makes 2 meals)
  • Ancho salmon w/ no spicy citrus chile sauce (makes 2 meals)
  • Kid’s meal – grilled chicken dippers

Approved sides:

  • Asparagus
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Celery with ranch

To find more bariatric-friendly recipes and weight loss success stories, visit our From the Heart blog. And to see if you qualify for bariatric surgery, visit today.