So you are thinking of ordering out again...

Eating out is a nice way to break up the routine of home-cooked food. During the pandemic, many have fallen into a rut of eating the same foods week after week, over and over. With limited trips to the grocery store, shopping from a steady list can make practical sense, but it can also bring boredom and monotony. 

Ordering out can serve as a break from cooking and cleanup. For some, ordering out has offered a sense of “fun” or entertainment in lieu of other activities that have been canceled. As with any change in routine, there comes a factor of unknown related to how exactly glucose levels will respond to new foods. 

Nicole Patience, a nutrition and diabetes educator, encourages you to invite your diabetes to the table and to attend to it with care before, during, and after the meal. 

Consider approaching the meal with a sense of curiosity. Here are some questions to ask before making your food selections. 

  • How hungry are you feeling? If you are very hungry, consider having a small snack before ordering. 
  • What kind of cuisine are you up for? 
  • What is your current glucose level? If <70mg/dl, treat hypoglycemia before starting the meal. 
  • What foods will attend to your hunger, allow you to attend to your diabetes, and leave you feeling good? 

If you take insulin, what considerations will you make around timing (single vs extended or split dose) and dosing calculations to account for the meal? A high-fat meal may change insulin needs.

After the meal, process the experience. Was it as delicious as you had hoped? Did the portion you ate leave you feeling satisfied but not uncomfortably full?

If you use a continuous glucose monitor there is an opportunity to reflect afterward as you review the glucose tracings from the day. 

  • At what point after starting the meal did your glucose start to rise in response to the food? 
  • How long were glucose levels impacted by the food? Was your body able to bring glucose back into the target range 2hrs after the meal (<180mg/dl). 

These are some considerations on how to bring diabetes to the table next time you eat from a restaurant. Consider treating diabetes as you would an old friend – be attentive to its needs, sensitive to how it responds, and compassionate with how your body reacts. 

Although this content is reviewed by Joslin Diabetes Center healthcare professionals, it is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.