Eating Out When You Have Diabetes

The more you know about how your body reacts to different foods, the easier it is to eat away from home and still keep your diabetes in control. Now that nutrition labels appear on convenience foods and more people are aware of the dietary needs of diabetics, you can participate in the social activities that appeal to you without having to limit yourself to so-called diabetic foods.

Eating at A Friend’s House

You’ve been invited to your best friend’s home for a spur of the moment meal. Can you ask for special treatment? Absolutely! Offer to bring part of the meal or be involved in the preparation. You can’t expect everyone you know to have a library of sugar free recipes, but you can bring dessert and impress others with how wonderful diabetic foods can taste.

Ask questions about foods and check nutrition labels, if you can. Many people have difficulties understanding diabetes and your need to stick to a meal plan, but will be happy to help accommodate your diabetes if you’ll explain what’s necessary.

Eating While On the Road

Eating while traveling can be unpredictable, so take extra food (and insulin or other medications) in case you need it. Airlines are generally able to accommodate special dietary requests, but their idea of appropriate diabetic foods may not be the same as yours. Banquets and restaurants may serve generous or skimpy portions, leaving you to figure out just which exchanges you might have covered.

But what do you do if the plane is held at the gate for a long delay or the banquet speaker is so longwinded that you’re eating hours later than you’d planned? A considerate waiter may be able to slip you some rolls or crackers but you’ll be better off if you pack a few emergency supplies.

What Should You Drink?

In this case, knowledge is power. You’ll need to know whether the punch has added alcohol, whether the tea is sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener, and whether the soft drinks are regular or diet.

Ask the server, explaining why it’s important for you to know. Sometimes people will think you’re just being picky and tell you what they think you want to hear. A brief, clear explanation of why you need the information is more likely to motivate people to give you accurate information.

A Guest with Diabetes Is Coming for Dinner?

Gracious hosts will try to accommodate their guests’ special needs to some extent. If you’ve invited someone with diabetes to a party or other special event where food will be served, you can take a few simple steps to make their experience pleasant and healthy:

  • Serve a variety of drinks and snacks so that guests can choose from several options.
  • Label items on a buffet and note low fat, low salt, and low carbohydrate options.
  • Save nutrition labels from packaged or canned food so guests can check ingredients.
  • Search the Internet for sugar free recipes and test them out when friends who have diabetes come over.

A Couple of Things to Try

  • If you refrigerate your insulin, put your car keys in your friend’s refrigerator along with your insulin. When it’s time to go home, you won’t get far if you’ve forgotten to retrieve your insulin.
  • Some glucose testing strips can be used a second time to test whether or not a drink contains sugar. Turn two already used strips so the unused (back) sides are facing up. Place a drop of regular soda on one and a drop of diet soda on the other and watch for a few seconds. The strip can be used as a sugary drink detector: the strip with regular soda will turn a dark purple color while the diet soda will cause no change in the strip color. Testing my daughter’s drink in this way has saved us many times and costs nothing extra!

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