A Guide to Eating Out With Diabetes
When you are first diagnosed with any type of diabetes or prediabetes it may feel like your social life is over or eating out with diabetes is impossible.
Special occasions like birthdays, weddings and Valentine's Day begin to seem less like events to celebrate and more like endurance tests, food-wise.
It can be relatively easy to make healthy food choices at home but faced with a gloriously indulgent piece of cake, a glass of champagne or even a carb-fest of a buffet, and it can be challenging to stay on the straight and narrow without looking like a party pooper and feeling like the odd one out.
The good news is that you don't have to completely give up all that is "bad" for a person with diabetes. Because in reality, nothing is truly wrong if enjoyed in moderation.
No Food is Banned
In the past, I had bought products from that section for my Grandma who had diabetes. I thought it was lovely that I could buy her specialist treats. Little did I know that I was overpaying for food items which had earned the higher price tag simply with the addition of the “diabetic friendly” label.
My nutritionist soon put me right and informed me that all food is diabetic food. No food is banned. You just have to be careful about how much you eat or drink and if on medication, adjust accordingly. In fact, she told me I was not eating enough carbohydrates, which can lead to a hypo – diabetic hypoglycemia when your blood sugars drop too low.
The advice to diabetics is the same as it is to the rest of the population – eat a healthy balanced diet which is low in fat, sugar, and salt and make sure you include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your choices.
If you want to eat healthily and enjoy meals out, you are going to have to learn a little more about nutrition to keep your blood glucose stable and low and your heart, eyes, and nerves healthy and operating as they should.
Track Your Blood Sugars
Keeping track of your blood glucose levels is vital. There are a variety of ways to do this – finger prick blood tests, have an implant which sends information to a wireless device or with regular HbA1C tests which check the trend over some months.
Many people with diabetes use tablet-based medication and it’s important to keep on top of these. Buy a pill sorting box if you have trouble remembering whether you’ve taken the right tablet at the right time and if necessary ask someone with sharp eyes and nimble fingers to help you load the little boxes for the week ahead.
If you are using insulin, it’s even more important to check your sugars regularly and adjust your dose accordingly. Don’t be tempted to guess even if you know what it usually is after a pizza for instance.
If you feel embarrassed about testing or injecting in a busy restaurant, you can just nip to the restroom or ask the server if there’s somewhere private you can discreetly inject.
I’ve found however that people are more curious than freaked out by learning someone is an insulin dependent diabetic so you could use your blood glucose check and maintenance as an opportunity to educate those around you a little more and banish some of those myths.
Read the Labels
Keeping an eye on how much sugar is in your diet is relatively easy when you are buying tins, boxes, and packets at the grocery store. I quickly learned to read food labels and to spot the hidden sugars.
Did you know there are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels including sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose, and rice syrup, among others?