Tips on Eating Out with Type 2 Diabetes

Mila Clarke Eating Out with Type 2

It’s no surprise that I’m a huge foodie – my friends and family do call me The Hangry Woman, after all! I also live in Houston, TX, which is one of the greatest places in the world to have a foodie adventure. I find myself dining out a lot, whether it’s with my family, dates, friends, or visitors who come to town. While I love dining out, there’s always one concern at the front of my mind: how am I going to manage my blood sugars in a cooking environment that I can’t control?

My Approach to Dining Out 

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I found dining out difficult. Over time, I realized that preparation was going to be my best tool. I could prepare by reading the menu ahead, guestimating some of the carb counts using tools and apps like Carb Manager, or MyFitnessPal, and deciding how I would dose for them.

Because I’m indecisive, I would do this for 2-3 potential choices – an appetizer, drink, and dessert. Even if I wasn’t going to eat all of that, I still wanted to be prepared for what might come my way.

Having options ahead is the best way to go. I always found that the more educated I was about my choices, the easier it would be to make a decision.

Choosing My Meal 

Once I get to the restaurant and sit down, I scan my FreeStyle Libre 2 to check my numbers.

Seeing my numbers with just a scan of my phone is really beneficial to me. It helps me make quick decisions, and I like that it’s a painless, flexible option for checking my blood sugars without having to take away too much time before my meal.

When my friends and family see my sensor, they sometimes comment on how easy it is for me to check my numbers. Sometimes I can check my numbers and take my insulin without them evening knowing.

Unless I’m splurging, I try to look for meals that have a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. If the side for a meal is really starchy, I’ll ask to substitute steamed veggies. A big plate of broccoli, or a pile of spinach always works well for me.

I love a good plant-based meal, but I’m also happy with animal protein if something on the menu looks really good.

Most of all, I try not to obsess over every single ingredient in my food. Dining away from home should be a perfectly enjoyable experience. I think it’s important to find yourself a healthy meal, but also walk away satisfied. It’s not a great meal if you don’t love it!

Dosing Insulin for My Meal

Since I have Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (type 1.5 diabetes), I am insulin dependent, and inject insulin for each of my meals.

My approach to dosing for a meal is that I take 1 unit of rapid-acting insulin for every 10 grams of carbohydrates in my meal. Everyone’s insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is a little different, so work with your healthcare provider on what works best for you.

I will usually dose for my meal once I’ve put my order in so I don’t take it too early and end up with low blood sugar. If the meal is a little larger than I expect portion-wise, I might correct my dose later on based on numbers from my FreeStyle Libre 2.

Managing My Levels After Meals

Two hours after my meal and insulin doses, I check my levels again just to make sure I’ve dosed for my meal properly, and my numbers are within my goal ranges.

Sometimes I don’t even have to worry about that part – the optional alarms on my FreeStyle Libre will let me know when I’m out of range.

If I’m out of range, I’ll make a correction with my rapid actual insulin, and keep monitoring to make sure I’m in range. Sometimes I’ll also exercise after a meal has settled, which initially spikes my blood sugars, but then later I notice it brings it down and keeps things steady.

I’m also conscious of staying hydrated after eating, which tends to help my glucose levels stay steady, too.

How My FreeStyle Libre 2 Helps with My Diabetes Management

Since I started using the FreeStyle Libre 2, I feel like I have more insight into how food affects my numbers, and more information is always a positive thing.

I feel more confident about dosing decisions, and I don’t have to focus on my blood sugars for too long before moving on to the next thing. It also helps me learn my own individual patterns, and what works to get my glucose back in range.

If you’re new to the FreeStyle Libre 2, there’s also the MyFreeStyle program to help you get acquainted with your first sensor. What I love about the MyFreeStyle program is that it helps you with a guided experience for using the sensor, with 14 days of helpful resources emailed right to you. You get the most out of your sensor, and it’s a great way to learn about using the tool.

What I learned from the MyFreeStyle program was that I was still capable of tracking my numbers and understanding trends, while not having to obsess over my numbers all the time or feel the pressure to do finger sticks at inconvenient times (like when I’m at the diner table ready to take my insulin injection and eat).

Overall, the FreeStyle Libre 2 is a beneficial tool for my diabetes management plan, and it helps me make the best decisions when I decide to dine out.

Along with a little bit of preparation, and using the FreeStyle Libre 2 as an easy way to track my numbers, keeping my blood sugars in check after meals has never been so simple.

Mile Clarke, Hangry Woman, Diabetes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow along with Mila on her foodie adventures via Instagram.

 

2 Comments
  1. Two comments:
    1. I always tell my classes (I volunteered at a diabetes clinic for a 10-minute talk once a month, BC [Before COVID]) that when I eat out, I look at the picture of my meal if any, read the description, do the best estimate I can of the expected carbs…then I multiply the result by 150%, because they always manage to pack that many more carbs into the meal than seems possible! It usually seems to work out pretty well.
    2. At a T1 class I took years ago, one of the CDEs recommended going back to the kitchen and asking the chef what the carb level was for my chosen meal. (!) I never had the courage to do that… And she was serious! Fortunately, more and more restaurants are making nutrition info available. Your waitperson may not know immediately where that info IS, but you can ask him/her to find out; surprisingly often, they can provide it.
    –Keith
    T1 for 61 years

    • Yes, having access to nutrition info from restaurants is so helpful. The bare minimum we tell people is that when they eat out, it seems to affect their blood sugar more than they expect.

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