How to respond to people about diabetes?

About 2 weeks after being diagnosed with type 1, I went out with some friends. We went Jimmy John’s, and I asked the employees if they had a nutrition sheet or something of their foods. They said no, so I asked if they knew anything about the carbs in the food. One of the workers looked at me and said “Carbs aren’t bad for you.” How do you respond to that? I just said “Well, I’m diabetic, and I need to know that kind of stuff.” But, in general, I don’t want to be going up to strangers and just saying I have diabetes. So how do you respond to that kind of stuff?

K, this one’s even better sarcasm. We went to an icecream shop after eating out, and I wanted to see if they had nutritional info on the icecream. So, I went up and asked if there was any way that they knew the carb count of anything they sold. This nasty guy looked up at me and said “If you’re on a diet, you shouldn’t even be here.” I got so mad at that! My friend was so sweet, and she stepped up to him and said “She’s not on a diet! She’s diabetic!”.

Let me know how you guys would respond to people who don’t have a clue.

I’ve had that too. The first time I ate out after being diagnosed, I was really fussy about the food and made them leave off the sauce and give me a dry baked potato. The waiter gave me a few hassles, but then I asked to see the manager and explained I was diabetic, and they were then very accommodating. The second time I ate out was at the same place. I was with a bunch of really great academics (I’m a student) from a conference, so I didn’t get to pick the place. The waiter forced me to buy an extra plate of veggies because he couldn’t give me the food I wanted, and I didn’t want to make a fuss in front of everyone. I did tell him that I was diabetic, but he didn’t care.

The thing I hate the most about eating with other people who know I’m diabetic is that they feel sorry for me because I won’t eat chocolate biscuits (or whatever it may be). They don’t seem to get that I do have pudding and sweet things that I like and can eat, but a lot of the time I don’t because I’m just not hungry. I hate the look they give me when they tell me they’re so sorry for me and ask me what I can eat because they’ll make something especially. Like, chocolate biscuits are really not that big of a deal and now that I’ve lost a lot of weight and am feeling better, they’re really not worth it for me.

The way i manage things is i rely upon the calorie king book it is smaller so you can carry it with you. It have over 200 restaurants in the books comes in handy since i carbohydrate count.

When I go out to eat I look online ahead of time to see if they have nutritional information and to look at the menu. If they don’t have the information there, then I look for something that is similar to what I have eaten before and estimate the carbs. Calorie King is a great reference to have as well. They have a lot of the fast food places in there. I don’t expect the places i eat it to know what the carb count is if they don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis then they have no clue.
Now as far as the ice cream guy I would have said to him, it is my business if I want to eat here or not, diet or not, but I would like to talk to you manager and then take it up with the manager on how the employee acted.

The chains, at least for the most part, should have nutritional information available upon request, in fact many of the fast food places have nutrition charts posted pretty close to the counter. If you ask, they should give. Of course the challenge is the mom and pop diners, local eating establishments, regional or local chains. They probably have very little idea of what kind of carbs are in their meals. That is where Calorie King’s book is very handy. At least you can compare with what you are looking at would be at a different location and kind of get an estimate.

As far as the ice cream, I agree with Cody. It’s my business what I eat and not their business. If I am willing to pay the price (eat less of something else, take an extra shot, exercise more, whatever the price may be) it is my business what I eat.

Wow, nice customer service! (not)

I go back and forth between wanting to be an advocate for the D community (letting people know I have it and that it isn’t anything to hide or feel embarrassed about) – and feeling like it’s none of anyone else’s damn business!

So sometimes I do what you did – just state the fact, no drama. Sometimes I keep it vague: “I have a problem with my carbohydrate metabolism.” Other times I avoid it altogether by only ordering something I can be sure of, like a plain salad with no dressing.

It does bug me to have people roll their eyes at my requests because they think low-carb eating is some kind of krazy food fad. But I have to admit I used to think that way myself – the way I grew up, you eat what’s on your plate and that’s that. Now that I have my own dietary weirdness to deal with I’m a lot more understanding of people who make a fuss about things, whether I know their “reasons” or not.

I got a copy of calorie king from my CDE and the web for may of these fast food places has been great. Ice cream is tough one but I also found to be a helpful site as well. Just remember you can cure ignorance but, stupidity is another story…

Oh yes, I totally agree with you, people do not know how to respond to diabetics and food. That being said I can also see the restaurant side of the nutrition label issues. Most restaurants unless they are a chain do not have nutritional info. If they do I don’t know how much I would trust it (I used to be Chef). Since educating non diabetic people is difficult I would take the proactive approach so that you don’t have to deal with stupid people. First go out and buy the 2008 edition of Calorie King. This has almost every food you can think of including nutritional info for restaurants. You can also visit their website and do free searches.

Once you have your book and or your food with a nutritional label on it start by weighing your food portions or using a measuring cup to get an idea of what a serving looks like. After a couple of weeks doing this you will have a pretty good idea as to where your food will be nutrition wise.

Next time you go for ice cream you will then be able to bypass the stupid person behind the counter knowing that you have a pretty good idea how many carbs your icecream cone is going to have. This way you don’t even have to go there with the whole people don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to diabetes.

They are by law required to have the nutrition facts in printed form at the store. I have asked for them before. It might be in some binder in the back, but they need to have them.

You can try telling them that it is not for diet, but it is for your health-- if you don’t want to tell them about diabetes. But usually, I just say this:
“I have diabetes and take insulin. I can eat almost anything, but I need to know exactly how many carbs are in it. SO I would like to see the nutrition facts.”
It avoids some questions or bad looks, like WHY ARE YOU EATING ICE CREAM?

Calorie King is great too!

I do have calorie king, actually. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all restaurants, though. That’s interesting that they require all restaurants to have nutritional information! I guess the employees don’t know, because most places say no.

The short answer for me is, sometimes I ask, sometimes I just estimate. I totally understand your frustration. I think we all deal with it. I try to keep it in perspective this way. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t know or care about the dietary needs of a diabetec, so I don’t expect non-diabetics to get it either. Bummer, but it’s just the nature of the beast.

I’d echo what has already been said. Calorie King is a great reference. There’s even a mobile site if you have a mobile phone ( I have it as a favorite on my Treo. In time, with practice, you will get pretty good at estimating so if you don’t want to ask, you won’t have to. BTW, that ice cream’s probably 14-18g per half cup (not counting the cone). :slight_smile: When I do ask and I get the rude person who just doesn’t get it, I just calmly tell them I’m a diabetic, don’t make a big deal about it and leave it at that.

I think my bigger frustration is the general non-diabetic friendly world of eating out. Man there’s a lot of carbs out there to avoid!

Sorry about your diagnosis, but now that you know, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. You’re in a pretty cool community here if you need help.

We have a huge problem when we go out to eat. I am diabetic, yes, but my daughter is severely wheat, gluten and fructose intolerant. If she gets very many carbs at a time she goes very hyperinsulinemic and crashs very badly. She has to be brought back up very slowly so she doesn’t crash again. She pretty much sticks to steak with nothing on it and burgers that have never had a bun touch them. She has to explain that she can’t have a salad that has had croutons dumped on it and then sent back to the kitchen and they were just removed, but the crumbs are still there. We kind of stick to the same places when we go out. It just isn’t worth the trip to the hospital when someone has ignored the no flour and gluten means no flour and gluten and no sugar for her rule.
There is a dessert that I can recommend for any of us who want to eat something really good with no sugar. My daughter can’t have it, but I eat it once in a while. The Cheesecake Factory makes a sugar free cheesecake, sold by the slice that i think is really good. I look at their other cheesecakes and they are pretty and look good, but the caloires that must be in there are probably mind boggling. Everyone says they are great, but for me the sugar free one is really good. I am sure it still has plenty of calories, but I only eat it maybe 1 or 2 times out of an entire year.

oooh, that sounds good! I love cheesecake. My shortcut dessert that I daily is sugar-free jello with South Beach Diet Coolwhip. I don’t even count the coolwhip, because it’s only 3 grams of carbs per serving. lol, my family laughs at me when i walk around with a spoon and a tub of coolwhip first thing in the morning. but i love it!

That makes me smile. Two of my daughters do the same thing. I have to get them personal tubs of Coolwhip when they come over and the rest of the family wants some for themselves.

Servers who work in the food industry aren’t going to know nutrition info 99.999% of the time, so you’ll save yourself some frustration by not asking. They don’t have a clue about it, but it’s not their responsibility to have a clue either, and frankly, as much as they get paid, I think it’s an awful lot to ask to even expect them to know that info. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they have some printed info, but unless it’s a huge chain or you’re someplace where nutrition info must be available according to law, you’ll just draw negative attention to yourself. Not that it’s right or justified, but that’s what happens. If you know you’re going to a specific place, check their website before you go. If you get someplace, ask for printed info, and they don’t have it, it’ll just be an opportunity to refine your guesstimation skills. Guesstimation is a good thing to practice because you’ll be forever relying on it.

I think it’s really unreasonable to be judgmental of them though. Like I said, it’s not their job to know the carb content of anything on the menus. If I have no reason to know calculus, and someone asked me a calculus question, I’m not dumb to not know the answer. It’s not in their job descriptions to memorize nutrition info or be knowledgeable about health conditions. They’re not nutritionists or dieticians. They’re low-paid food service workers, so they’re not dumb for not knowing or understanding.


When I go to a restaurant I use calorie king and on my cell phone there is a restaurant application that I love using.

it’s funny people look at you like your crazy and when you tell them you have diabetes their whole tone changes…kinda makes you wonder…

My Husband is in the Army and stationed in Cali. I went to a family day picnic that they have for the families once a year. I asked someone if they had Diet Pop, they replied “Your skinny already, why are you on a Diet.”…lol I said I am not on a Diet I am a Diabetic, she said ohhh! I am sorry…lol There was no diet pop can u believe it. An officer came up to me and asked how did I like the picnic…I replied it’s nice but not Diabetic Friendly. I let him know that there are prob a few other diabetics who had to suffer w/o anything to drink…hahahaha

Sorry for going off the topic but I had to share it.

Kristin, as far as I know only fast food restaurants are required to have nutritional data on hand for customers. Regular sit down restaurant where one is waited on by a server are not required to have nutritional data on hand for customers in the US.

I really like you statement “Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t know or care about the dietary needs of a diabetic, so I don’t expect non-diabetics to get it either.” I would have to say I was the same before I was diagnosed. Now that I am a full fledged diabetic, I can’t say that I expect people to understand because they really have no reason to understand what we go through until they go to the doctor and get the “your a type 1or 2 diabetic speech.” I don’t like the ignorance either but if it does not affect you then your not as likely to pay attention.

I love BOTH of those suggestions. If I can’t find it on Calorie King (book or website), I use Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone (dwlz). I have an iphone so it’s easy to pull up the sites wherever I am.

If you want to split the difference with people about what to say and how much information to give, I’ve found myself saying before, “Well, I take a different amount of medication depending on my exact carb count so having that information really helps me. But thanks anyway.”

We have a great little french bistro in my town and I had this conversation with the owner. He was very apologetic that he couldn’t give me an accurate count. I just responded “Well, thanks anyway. I’ll do my best to estimate.” There’s a way to educate companies about what we need. When I was a teen before the now-so-ubiquitous internet had everything we needed, I remember fighting Chili’s to find out the carb count on this one entree I liked. Finally got the answer - 120g. For some restaurants, it’s about not wanting the info out there.

Didn’t know about the mobile Calorie King site. Got it on my MotoQ now, though.

This site rocks!!! You all are the best!!!