I have to say, for someone who won’t splash four dollars on a box of berries, I eat out far too much. Maybe my priorities are all wrong, but I just love going out and socialising over dinner and a few drinks. However, this wasn’t always the case. Before, I used to avoid doing what I love the most because it caused me so much diabetes-related stress. It shouldn’t have. Eating out with Type 1 Diabetes is simple once you follow these few hacks.
1. Order a Bottle
Have you ever ordered a diet coke, only to sip away with anxiety, wondering if your emphasis on the word diet was stressed enough? Twice, that is two too many times, I’ve been given a regular instead of my requested sugar free version. My sugars shoot up and next thing my meal arrives. Now I need to take god knows how much insulin, I’m stressed, grumpy and not to be melodramatic but the entire evening is kind of ruined. Solution? Ask for a bottle. Specify the word bottle. This way you don’t have to worry about a lazy waitress pressing any old button from the hose.
2. Order extra veg
Ever wonder why you can’t stop eating? Well, according to Adam Browns ‘Bright Spots And Landmines’ “diabetics are either missing or have lower levels of hormones like amylin that suppress appetite.” That’s right- we actually have an excuse!!! So, if you’re like me and order a side of fries with the intention of having only a few, you’ll eat them all plus everyone else's. This is why I always order a side of veg. Before you roll your eyes and claim that fries can't be replaced by veggies, they nearly always have a bit of oil and butter on them and are so delicious!
Another tip for combating this lack of hormone is to. eat slower as it can take up to 15 minutes after you’re full for it to register with your brain. There’s a few tricks for this. The first is to consciously eat slower than whoever you’re eating with, the second is to keep drinking water during the meal and the third is to put your fork down between bites.
3. Get a Carb Counting App
We’ve all heard of MyFitnessPal, but did you know that you can now search the restaurant that you are in and BAM! There in front of you is the carb count for the entire menu. If they don’t have the info available for the restaurant you are in you can request it. So, if you have a restaurant booking for the weekend, request the menu’s nutritional info during the week. That way you can go in prepared and not only know what you are going to order, but exactly how much insulin you’re going to take. If you don’t have access to the exact menu you can always just search the food too. Either way, I would definitely recommend downloading this app.
4. Avoid Pizza
This isn't what anyone wants to hear, but my honest advice is to avoid pizza if your on injections and eating out. Due to its high fat and carb content, the carbs in the pizza could take hours to be broken down and digested. This means that if you take all of your insulin at once, you will have a hypo. You need to space out your insulin dose. I wrote a post here on how I mastered it for the first time and was so delightfully proud of myself! However, there were a few reasons that it worked out. The meal was early on in the day so I had the entire evening to keep injecting units here and there. We also went straight home afterwards so there was no added stress of dosing for desert or drinks afterwards. When I'm out socialising I'd rather not be fretting about my diabetes so I prefer to have a protein based dish and treat myself to desert instead!
5. Take the Insulin At the Meal
Something I’ve learned to do is to just wait until the meal is right in front of you to take your insulin. I know that in a normal situation it’s said to take insulin 15 minutes before a meal, but this isn’t a normal situation. You could’ve accidentally stumbled upon one of those very pretentious restaurants that provide an upsettingly smaller portion to what you were expecting. What makes that portion even more upsetting? The fact that you now have 3 too many units of insulin now circulating your bloodstream. What’s more, many restaurants often like to venture outside of the expected 30 minute time frame between ordering and the food being brought out. There’s nothing worse than having your dish put in-front of you with a side of hypoglycemia!!
6. Bring the Right Hypo Snack
This may be stating the obvious, but never presume that because your going out for food you won't need a hypo snack. You may very easily over-dose for that meal, and then what? When I'm going out I like to bring these lucozade tablets, which you can get here, with me. The reason being is because they're pocket sized, quick reacting and I only need about 2-3 to get me back into the safe zone. The last thing you want to do after you've finished a large meal and desert is to start scoffing down sweets. These are the perfect solution!
Those are my top tips for eating out with T1D. Nearly everything is a little more complicated when you have to handle diabetes on the side, but it's certainly possible. Hope you enjoyed!