Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dining Out With a Diabetic

-photo courtesy
It's about as glamorous as it sounds. 

Dining out was frustrating, to say the least. I thought we'd never do it again. 
To start off, I also have diabetes. The doctor has me on insulin, along with other medication. It was a hassle anytime I ate out at a restaurant and especially during lunch at college. I was too embarrassed to break out with my glucose meter and check my blood sugar at the table. I also didn't think the bathroom was a very sanitary place to check it. Therefore, I checked it while I was in the car prior to going in to the restaurant. At a restaurant, I would order my meal and when it arrived, make a trip to the restroom where I would give myself my insulin.  During lunch at school, I ate in my car; heat on in the winter so I wouldn't turn into a popsicle, and air conditioning when it was 80 degrees.

Sound fun? 

Double Trouble

After Sawyer was diagnosed, I was overwhelmed. How would this work? 
I am not embarrassed about checking his sugar and administering his insulin. What's really difficult is counting his carbohydrates. Some restaurants offer a nutrition list which makes it helpful in counting his carbs. This is important since Sawyer's dosage is dependent on what he eats. 

Carbs ratio + blood glucose = insulin units

So, you can see it's very important to know this information. The endocrinologist gave us a typed handout which covers some general foods, but not restaurants and other specialty foods. With two diabetics dining out, honestly, it's simply not fun. All I can do is make it as simple as possible by searching out and utilizing tools to ease the stress.

Sidebar Note
A carb is a carb. It does not matter the source of the carb.
That's not to say that different foods don't effect each person
differently, because they do. The way the nutritionist explained
it to me is, that whether it's a brownie or a slice of whole wheat      
bread, they are both carbs. They are processed by the body in the same way. It's important to note that diabetics
can eat what they want, in moderation, as long as it is counted
into their carb ratio. If you see a diabetic eating a cookie, 
brownie, or slice of cake, do not pass judgement. It might
be that they have allotted for that treat. Maybe they exercised an extra half hour so they could have dessert at dinner. So long as it isn't a consistent habit, it's fine.
Pasta, potatoes, and bread are on equal ground with treats.

This is what helped me.

First, I have a copy of The Calorie King in my son's kit. We take it with us everywhere we go. I have a spare copy in my car. 
Yet, not all restaurants are listed. For example, Friendly's is not in the book. When we dined there recently, I asked for a nutrition information sheet. What they provided only listed calories. That wasn't the information I needed to calculate Sawyer's dosage. 

I was able to access their Web site via my mobile phone, but that wasn't easily navigated. 
Then I found a wonderful and FREE app. for my iPhone called 'GoMeals'. This application allows you to keep track of your meals. It lists many supermarket foods as well as restaurants; including Friendly's. I was able to search the list and find the foods Sawyer was eating and count his carbs. I highly recommend this app for anyone who has access to an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. I am unsure if this app is available for the Blackberry, but it would be well worth looking in to. 

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  1. you have to be careful too though right? b/c when we were out i think i remember we found two different things for the carbs and one was way bigger than the other right?

  2. Kristan, you have hit on a good point. The carbs provided can vary and this is frustrating. Too much insulin can cause a hypoglycemic reaction, yet not enough can make the person sick from high blood sugar. While at Applebees Friday night, I checked their Website for nutrition information. It was quite thorough. I was shocked that the chocolate chip cookie sundae had 210 carbs!!!! That's more carbs than anyone should have in a day.

  3. There is an iPhone app called "restaurants" that lists nutritional info for meals at many restaurants. It has been quite helpful to us-

  4. Thank you for sharing that, Rachel. I love discovering new tools to make life easier, and I'm sure my readers will appreciate it also.


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