Let’s talk about food. Food has become rather complicated since I was diagnosed with diabetes and I’m sure you can all relate to that. I’ve worked very hard over the years to identify the best way for me to eat in order to control my blood glucose, eat in a healthy way and still be satisfied. It’s not always easy! Eating at home isn’t so bad since I can control what I have in the house, but eating away from home can be somewhat of an issue, especially when you have limited choices. I had two opportunities in October to eat away from home in settings that I thought would be “safe”. They were interesting lessons.
My first “safe” experience was at the American Diabetes Association’s Walk to Stop Diabetes. It was my first time walking to generate donations and I was pretty danged excited! (I blogged about the experience here.) I had eaten a “meal bar” in the truck on my way to the walk so I didn’t need any food…but there was some available. There were oranges (which is one of the fruits I can simply no longer eat) and some trail mix with M&M’s. I had brought my own baggie of mixed nuts so I didn’t need that either. Along the route there were stations with water and more trail mix. When I completed my 4 mile walk I returned to the hall where we all met and got in line to get some breakfast. I was hungry!! The line was long and as I waited I was thinking about what they might be offering us PWD to eat. Surely it will be “D friendly” and lower in carbs! Uh…not. The first thing I saw was jugs and jugs and jugs of juice. I don’t think so! Breakfast consisted of a breakfast burrito, all wrapped up in a large regular white tortilla. That’s it, well other than coffee. I was a wee bit disappointed but was famished so I took my food and found a table. Once I got there, with my burrito and coffee, I opened up the burrito and dove into it with a fork. There was no way my glucose would be happy with that huge tortilla! There was a couple sitting across from me and the wife nudged the husband and said, “You should have done that too!” I appreciated the food and the myriad of volunteers who made it possible, but I was a little disappointed in the selection. I was also still hungry and ate the rest of my mixed nuts during my drive back home. Even though my food selections were limited, I managed to be smart and had really good glucose readings to show for my efforts (and I’m sure that the 4 mile walk didn’t hurt).
My next food excursion occurred when I attended the TCOYD conference in San Diego. (Here is my post about that experience.) I was again armed with a “meal bar” and some mixed nuts, but there were some great options available. At the break we were given a choice of an apple or a cheese stick. The apple over an orange is a better choice, IMHO, and cheese sticks rock! Our lunch was a small bowl of vegetarian gumbo, a mini corn muffin, salad and dessert. I heard some grumblings about the small portions but the food was excellent! I felt comfortable eating this meal because I knew it was prepared with diabetics in mind. The corn muffin was small enough that I felt that I could eat it without issue. The meal was lovely, and since it was prepared for PWD I concluded that I could eat the dessert too! MmmMMMMmm. Silly me. It wasn’t until after I had finished my meal that I heard that the nutrition information for our entire meal was included in our book along with the recipes. How cool is that! However, had I read that information prior to eating I would have skipped the dessert. Adding just that one thing caused my glucose to rise higher than I wanted. Along with that was the knowledge that I would be sitting on my can for the rest of the afternoon and exercising that dessert off wouldn’t be possible. During the afternoon sessions you could find me standing at the back of the room next to the water cooler chugging down water. I spent the break walking up and down a corridor. Like I said: silly me.
I was (and still am) disappointed with the food provided by the ADA at their Walk to Stop Diabetes. I completely understand that there were many people there who don’t have diabetes as well as several, I’m sure, who have T1 who are able to bolus for whatever they are about to eat. But hey, there were T2s there as well! At the very least there should have been options for the meal, not just one thing that contained too many carbs. Thankfully I was prepared and was able to control what I ate without causing glucose issues.
TCOYD did a much better job at providing healthy foods that could be eaten by anyone, regardless of D type. They even provided us with complete nutritional information which is awesome. It would have been even more awesome had I paid attention to that information. Sigh.
The bottom line is that it is difficult to feed hundreds of people on a budget and adding the twist of diabetes makes that even more difficult. We should never assume that a meal provided to us by folks who ought to know will be “safe”. We have to remain diligent, no matter what the circumstances are, and pay attention to what we’re eating! When faced with food choices that weren't best for me, I managed to prevail. When I was presented with a healthy meal, I assumed I could eat the whole thing. It’s up to us to do what we know is right for us and our diabetes treatment. That’s not to say that we can’t splurge now and then, just be sure you are being smart with your splurges and know how to handle the consequences.