Low(ish) carb eating while a house guest

Hey everyone,
I’m flummoxed. I feel like I’m just starting to develop a more-or-less healthy, balanced diet that won’t spike my blood sugar at home, but I’ve got another challenge that maybe the collective tudiabetes mind can help me with.

How do you guys (who follow a moderately low carb or “slow carb” diet) manage when you’re away from your own digs?

At home, I rely on specialty items involving reduced-carb flours, dreamfield pasta, and lots and lots of fresh veggies. But I’ve recently been frustrated by trying to eat when I’m someone’s house guest for a few days or when I’m over at my boyfriend’s place.

Are there any “essential” ingredients or items that you’ve found useful to bring with you or stock some of your homes away from homes with? I’m trying to think especially about a few meals that could be created from ingredients that won’t spoil (frozen, canned, dry, etc.) and that won’t take over someone’s kitchen.

Any thoughts?

i just stayed at my relative’s house for a week. on the first day we went to the supermarket and i got eggs, cold cuts, flaxseed bread, some cheese, and some nuts for snacks. eggs in the morning, sandwich at lunch, and for dinner we usually had a salad and veggies along side some sort of protein. i did use a tiny amount of kitchen space, but the space was available. also if your guest knows you’re diabetic they probably will understand the need for a square foot or two of fridge an pantry space for a few little things.

if i’m going over someone’s house for dinner i just ask that they have at least one non-carb-based dish/entree that i can eat my fill of.

I just let whoever I’m with know that I may not eat all that they set out for me to eat. I ate the meat stuffing out from between the layers of lasagna noodles, and spoon out some sandwich stuff without eating much of the bread, for example. I like to bring along peanut butter granola bars, which I use for when time goes on too long between meals.

+1 talk w/ your host about what works for you and see if they help you out. good luck

I generally don’t have any problem, I will bring my own food and will shop for what I need. The real problem is when you visit someone who wants to cook for you. If you follow a strict diet, how do you tell them you won’t eat their carefully prepared meal. I always depend on a private talk, I won’t explain the details of what I will and won’t eat, but I explain that I will adapt. I appreciate any effort someone makes in preparing a special meal for my visit, it is the thought that counts. If I pick apart a dish or fail to eat something that should not be interpreted as not liking or appreciating the meal. If I am still hungry, I’ll go eat nuts. It is my way of dealing with what life hands to me.

Oh do I need the answers to this one! Thank you for posting it!

Lots of good suggestions, here. I also think it depends on the nature of your relationship with the person. I got a lot of practice with this when I became a vegetarian before my diabetes raised its somewhat ugly head. There would be some people who I wasn’t very close too and/or it was a large gathering where I didn’t feel comfortable asking to have my needs met. I would just quietly eat around the meat, having extra servings of the “side dishes”, salads and (in those pre-D days) bread. Was it satisfying? Not really. “Side dishes” to meat are not really a satisfying meal for a vegetarian. So I didn’t attend those type dinners too often.

Now being a vegetarian AND a type 1 diabetic I am even less likely to attend those type occasions. I’m going to a workshop day at the college where I teach next week. Aside from not wanting to leave earlier to get there, I’m going to arrive after the planned lunch and bring a prepared salad or something to eat in the car or during the workshop. I’d rather do that than sit down to the group lunch and find little I want to eat.

With good friends or relatives it’s a different story. I’m a spoiled child; to the extent they understand diabetes (far less than they understand vegetarianism), they cater to my needs. My brother does this best of all by either asking me for a list of what he should have in the house when I come to visit or even better planning a super market run for after he gets me at the airport where I’m invited to pick what I want to throw in the carriage.

DanK had some great points on what to take when going to stay away from home. Meats and cheeses are always a good staple to take with you plus some wassa / kavli flat bread. Usually, when eating at a friends, I pick through what I can eat and graciously decline the carbs. It makes for lighter meals than I might be used to, but some baby belle chesse or nuts can quickly supplement a lighter meal.
For home away from home, you can make soups and take a frozen bag full to store there. Thats good for dinners. I tend to prep and freeze a lot these days. Most of that, provided there is space can go over to the BFs house. Presently, Ive got about 10lbs of pureed pumpkin in the freezer along with pureed zucchini, grated cauliflower (for rice, or soup), wurstchen goulash (sausage soup) in 1-2 serving portions, pumpkin bisque, low carb pita pizzas, etc. Its all ready to be cooked or heated and served. Plus meats, etc. There is a lot of options when you prep and freeze, plus the smaller items like the pizzas, soups, and what not can be put in a small ziplock and frozen flat so they take little room.
I havent found much canned short of SPAM (lol) that works for low carbing. Hope this helps.

Most of my friends are aware of what I call my “weird diet”. No grain, no potatoes, no fruit, no sweet stuff. But It’s hard for them to keep it all straight. If they ask I’ll say some meat and some non starchy veggies and I’ll be OK.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. A few weeks ago I went to a jam session at a friends house. He prepared a meal. The meat was some yummy looking ribs absolutely drenched in BBQ sauce. The veggies were black eyed peas. I don’t think it ever occurred to him the amount of carbs in that sauce, or that black eyed peas are very starchy. I kept my will power and did not partake. To handle situations like this I always have some nuts in the car, very filling and no spike. That day I had nuts and a salad and a bite of the peas.

Other friends eat very little meat. The staples of their diet, grain and legumes, are off limits to me. So again nuts and salad to the rescue.

I hate to be such a picky eater, but I’m pretty hard-core about sticking to my diet. Nuts are a very practical accommodation to these inevitable situations.

Isn’t this the hardest!? My family understands when we go to visit but it’s always a little more awkward with the in laws but I just pretty much keep a huge bag of lettuce, cheese, nuts, deli meat, etc and make my own salads and bring my own food with me and tell them it looks delicious and wish I could have some but unfortunately I cannot.

I usually just go to the store and buy some of my own groceries that I can eat and keep it in their fridge/pantry. I go buy deli meats, cheese, bagged salad, fresh broccoli, canned green beans, etc.

Yeah thats what I do…just bring my own or eat ahead of time so I do not have to worry about whether or not there will be anything there for me to eat or if it has added sugar, etc.

You can make a meal of a salad with deli meats and cheese.

Thanks for all the great suggestions, everybody. Sounds like lots of you have come up with similar workarounds and encountered similar problems. Always nice reinforcement. I’ve definitely been in the situation BadmoonT2 described about showing up and everything being drenched in sugar sauce or something.

I’m going to have to try a lot more of onesaint’s suggestion of prepping and freezing, especially at the boyfriend’s place. I’m definitely going to try the low carb pizza analogue thing. Pop in the broiler to reheat I imagine?

I guess my biggest problem is the food preservation thing in bases away from home, the boyfriend at least has a freezer, but I don’t really want to turn up with bags of fresh produce / meats every time I come over. Another place that I occasionally spend a few days at a time is a relative’s cabin in the woods. The place requires a fairly long trek down the mountain to provision and the electricity for the fridge/freezer isn’t kept on between visits. Another problem is the occasionally multi-day sailing trip in a boat with a very small galley and the same refrigeration issue.

When I’m just going over to someone’s for dinner I’m happy not eating or munching on a nut bar or something if I can’t manage with what they’re serving–never had a social problem refusing what’s being offered–so the problem is really only when I’m over somewhere a lot or for several days and really start to feel nutritionally compromised by eating my single ingredient stand-by foods.

Sigh, most days I just wish there was a low carb people kibble I could subsist on entirely that would meet all my nutritional needs.

I'm going to have to try a lot more of onesaint's suggestion of prepping and freezing, especially at the boyfriend's place. I'm definitely going to try the low carb pizza analogue thing. Pop in the broiler to reheat I imagine?

We use low carb pitas and add cheese, some veggies (steamed zucchini, broccoli, etc) along with some meats, usually. They come out to about 16g carbs. The other way is this recipe, which my wife really wants to try. Both those can be prepped, then frozen in large zip locks.

Additionally, sloppy joes with some veggies (we through in frozen) and the package mix, plus cheese and 1/2 pita is super low carb and can be prepped / cooked then reheated. You really only need freeze the sloppy joe mix and the rest can be fresh.

As for food preservation, I would say stews could help. If you pick up dried meats (landjager, salami, etc.) you can just pack in grated cauliflower, and other fresh ingredients (chicken bulion, leeks, etc.). That will last 2-3 days and make 2-3 meal. Your only issue will be the cream needed for the soup (freeze it?).
It really sounds like you need small meals that can be packed like backpacking food. Eg, tomato sauce with pasta or meat soaking in sauce. whey protein can be quite helpful as well, I would think.

With a bit of planning and lots of communication, this doesn’t have to pose any problems at all. I regularly host people for dinner and few people even notice that I’m low-carbing. From a hostessing point of view, the easiest option is to have a big pot of something in a tasty sauce with meat and lots of veggies. Like chicken mole with extra peppers, any kind of curry with extra veg, pork schnitzels in creamy sauce with plenty of mushrooms etc etc. I put out starchy side dishes for those with normal metabolisms, then always have a large green salad. That way I can always assemble a plate for myself; at the same time, those who want to have their ‘normal’ high-carb starches, and everyone shares the same food at the same table.

The only change post-dx that my dinner party guests have noticed is that there are now more diet drinks on the table.

The only difficult menu option is pasta. I get around that by not doing pasta anymore, or only serving it as a side dish like a pasta salad. That’s where communication is key. Though actually, you could still have the pasta sauce served on top of steamed/microwaved zucchini. I recently had zucchini carbonara and it totally hit the spot.

Mmm, what a good idea! How do you prepare the zucchini–sliced, or julienned?

Hi Frances, I don’t have a mandoline or anything fancy like that, just a good sharp chef’s knife. So I simply cut up the zucchini into long thin slivers and just microwaved it until it was cooked.

Have just bought some spaghetti squash seeds and can’t wait to plant them in the spring :slight_smile:

Eggs and/or bacon for breakfast; yogurt. Tuna, chicken or egg salad for lunch or green salad with chickpeas, other beans. Sandwich of deli meat on low carb bread or half slice of bread, open sandwich, or tortilla rolled with lunchmeat and veggies. Lunchmeat sandwich on Romaine. Meat and veggies for dinner. Not sure how low you go carb-wise, but throw in fruit, rice, bread or potatoes as allowed.