Eating out is about to become topical again, as we get out of Lockdown 2.0 here in the UK and enter the Christmas season. We all know that eating out as a T1D can pose multiple challenges on us. Unknown carb contents, no idea about how what you’ve ordered will look like and what the portion size will be. And, I haven't even mentioned the uncertainty about the time that it will take to prepare and how to adjust your pre-bolus to that. However, there are a few tricks that we can implement to help us stay in range and enjoy our meals out.
These are the 5 key elements for a successful and enjoyable meal out:
1. Order a side of vegetables/ greens.
Vegetables are an incredible source of fibre. They have very little carbs in them and will help you slow down digestion so that the carbs in the meal do not hit you as fast. This will lower the blood glucose spike, and help you avoid the disgusting high blood sugar symptoms.
2. Ask the waiter how long on average the meal takes to prepare and if they have carb-counts.
The waiters will usually know how busy the kitchen is and how long every meal on the menu takes to prepare, some restaurants also have carb counts. This will not be exact, but will at least give a rough estimation of when and how much to inject. If the food takes longer, just eat some bread from the bread basket, or have a glucose tab to hold you over.
3. Go for a short walk after the meal.
We know that insulin action becomes much faster during activity, and glucose is also used up when we move. Going for a short walk after your meal will help increase your metabolism and help the insulin reach your cells quicker, hence prevent a spike post your meal.
4. Pair your foods wisely.
Eating balanced is a very important aspect of controlling blood sugars as a Type 1. We can use this concept when eating out: if you are having a pizza, and you know that the fat can hit you later, you can just have a smaller portion and balance the meal out with a salad or some side vegetables. Moderation is key, but you also need to understand how much fat you eat can without spiking.
5. Always pre-bolus at least something.
Pre-bolus is absolutely essential in any situation. You do not have to necessarily inject the whole amount upfront, but you have to put at least some insulin in to get your blood sugar trending downwards, even if you already are at a good level. You can inject the bare minimum that you know you will eat, and then add on the rest of the insulin when you have the food in front of you. This will help prevent a spike.
Another important tip is to look for ‘hidden’ carbs and fats: salad dressings, Chinese food, sauces, dips etc. These all will affect your blood sugars, so make sure to be aware of what you are consuming.
I wish you all happy dining! I hope you make delicious choices, enjoy your food and don’t be afraid to inject insulin – there is always dessert to help you out if you overdo it, and don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong. We are all human, just correct and move on.
None of the information in this article is intended as medical advice. Please, consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diabetes management.