No Carb Count Available!

My husband and I are going on a marriage retreat next weekend so I looked at the 'sample' menu for the lodge's restaurant. Everything is Chef's choice, no ingredients or carb count. Just titles like 'honey glazed salmon' or 'roasted spiced potatoes. Even the salad, which seemed to be my best option, doesn't have any info except seasoned chicken with house special vinaigrette. And then, as if that wasn't enough, all other meals for the conference are buffet style with heavy carbs and no ingredient lists. I have resigned myself to being hungry on this trip, but if any of you have some tips I would greatly appreciate it.

How about taking a Calorie King book with you, or download a carb counting app to a smartphone?

In addition, use your best guesstimates and then test, test, test and make the appropriate corrections.

I think it’s perfectly within reason to call ahead and see if you can speak to the chef. Explain your situation and see if he can come up with some items that you can eat. Ask for the sauces ad dressings to be served on the side. Or you can grocery shop before you go and plan to have stuff in your room that you can eat to supplement the meals. No need to ever feel like you have to go hungry.

Maybe try some "test runs" of similar food @ home before the retreat to see how it goes? I eat stuff like that, maybe not as fancy but will chop up potatoes and mix it with meat and veggies and usually figure 25-30G of carbs/ hunk, depending on the balance of goodies. Even if the salmon is "honey glazed", it'd usually be a pretty thin layer of sauce that would not be more than a few carbs on top of the other items I would think.

Hey Amanda, what's the very worst that can happen ? Don't be hungry ! Eat the things that appeal to you and take a guess at the carb counts. Test often and do your best to stay in range. But the very best you can do is "a healthy good enough". This thinking like a pancreas non stop is draining and you should just enjoy the marriage retreat with your husband and if your blood sugar is a bit off it's no big deal you can fix it pretty easily after the retreat.

I would want to be able to get the most out of the retreat so I personally wouldn’t chose to go hungry. I’d try to stick to reasonable portions of foods served, guess at carbs, test often, and correct if needed. While I might aim for sugars in goal range I’d also be OK if I ended up running a little higher than normal as that would not detract from the retreat. Severe blood sugar swings or lots of lows or extreme highs would interfere with my ability to concentrate so I would settle for good enough rather than tight control if I had to for a couple of days.

In the long run guessing carbs is a good skill to develop you’re not always going to have available carb counts for foods. If your retreat is somewhere remote you might also ask about cell phone reception or be prepared for dead spots if you rely on your phone to look up carb counts so having something like the Calorie King book may be more helpful.

Have a good time when you go.

I love this reply and that of DianaS below. I'm only three years into my T1 journey. At first, I felt I needed to try to be perfect with everything to do with T1. When I finally decided to adopt the approach Clare describes in certain situations it really made things so much easier.

You will be fine!
Ask for salad dressing on the side, go with the veggies and protein and skip/tiny taste the carbs.
If the meals are buffet then you get to eyeball and choose what goes on your plate.

Breakfast buffets usually has eggs, breakfast meats, homefries/potatoes, fruit, yogurt, pastries, bagels, toast etc. Plenty to choose from. Use your knowledge of portion size to help your carb guestimation.

Lunch can vary from soups, salads, sandwiches etc. to hot meals. Just pick and choose what you like and use reasonable guesstimate of carbs to dose from. Just have a pocket full of skittles to use for adjustments you over guesstimate. I always carry a Ziploc of skittles, 1 skittle = 1gm carb

You can always pick out the flash carbs if you need to. Do you have a feel for what types of carbs spike you quickly? If so then just don't eat/restrict the amount that you chose to eat.
If you have a set price meal then swap for extra veggie, and just go with the protein, veggie and side salad.

If you need to deconstruct the meal and skip the big carb portions. Can you swap your carbs for your partners veggies? This is a joint venture so I'm sure the two of you can work something out.
I don't do a whole lot of cooking, as a single, and frequently eat at restaurants, have been able to work around how most chefs tend to work. It may take a meal or two to get a feel but it is doable.
Just test frequently and adjust as needed. If you can get your overnight in a reasonable range before bedtime then a few days with higher post meal numbers will not break the bank.

Relax and enjoy- you dont have to cook or clean, you can pay attention to yourself and your spouse. Don't sweat it, take advantage of the opportunity!

Carbs and Cals...brilliant book, teaches you to use your eyes to do this kind of thing:

Carbs n Cals

They also do an app. It's nice as it shows 4 pics of each food covering different portion sizes on plates etc, and the values for them.

I also take some protein bars with me. This past week we were on the road and I upped my insulin by 1 unit more than what I thought I should take. Also, it is only a weekend, enjoy it and do the best you can. We are back home and I am back on track.

Call and ask for the chef, and explain your situation. I disagree with the guesstimating thing unless you really really have a good idea of how many carbs are in your food and have references or a general idea from like calorie king or are really familiar with the food . I personally think guesstimating is dangerous and shouldn't be done even in short term situations unless you're in absolute dire straits. It's not worth making yourself sick on your trip either. Otherwise you really are just gonna have to play it safe and stick to the most low carb looking things as possible and avoid sauces and whatnot. I think it'd all be easier to call and ask though if there's any sort of carb info.

I so agree with Clare, Nya, Mike, Acidrock, all long time type1s like myself, relax, do the best you can. test, test, test. Perhaps you could let us see the sample menu, and we could help you figure a few things in advance.

Hope you tell us how things worked out when you get back. have a wonderful time, sounds like a really nice weekend.

Hey Amanda211:

I travel considerably for work all over the world and have to contend with huge variability in food types, but I've found a way enjoy good control and enjoy consistency regardless when I'm away from home. Through trial and error at home, and using a food scale, I've derived the right dosage for half a plate of green vegetables (i.e., broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, salad, etc.) two palm-sized portions of meat (beef, fish, chicken, seafood, etc.). It doesn't matter what part of the world I'm in, every culture has foods that meet this criteria, and the choices are quite varied and delicious. I avoid the starches/breads/sauces/dressings, etc., because this is where the variability increases. I dose to this formula and find that if I'm off, it's rarely by much and easy to correct.

Breakfast is eggs and bacon and even easier to dose for.

My only conversation with the chef would center around ensuring he provides "honey-glazed" free options, non-breaded protein options, and sauces on the side. I have yet to find any restaurant staff who have any understanding of carb content of their food, or even what a carb really is. You can't imagine how many times I've ordered burgers without the bun and asked to hold the fries because I cannot have carbs, and I get offered a fruit option as an alternative. :-)

To echo what others on this thread have advised - try not to obsess to much about the unknowns regarding the menu. Enjoy the retreat. If you follow a simple formula of ingesting sauce/breaded-free proteins and non-starchy vegetables while you're there, you shouldn't have to worry about any serious BG surprises.

Good luck and all the best!


I work away from home about 200+ days a year and carb counts are never available when I’m working… When I was first learning I carried a carb counting book with me everywhere I went… Now I have enough experience that I can just keep my carb selections limited to only a handful of items-- ie mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes… And I’m able to just eyeball it without any trouble. When something unfamiliar does find its way to my plate I use the smart phone app Lose-It and am usually able to come up with a pretty comparable foods carb count to make a decent estimate. You’ll be alright just keep carbs to minimum and stick to familiar ones as much as possible

PS welcome to the forum fellow Alaskan

One other thing you can do is call and describe your situation to the chef and ask if the kitchen can prepare some simple and appropriate food for you. Professional kitchens are used to special requests based on everything from deadly allergies to religious preferences and if given a heads up are often more than willing to do prepare something that meets your needs.

One of the reasons that events like this have buffets is because most people have some food/nutrition challenge(s). The buffet works because the diner can pick and choose items and serving amounts to their needs. I've taken my knife and scraped off suspect sauces, it is no big thing. I don't expect restaurants - nor friends - to cook something special for me. There are too many others they are cooking for. Having a buffet makes it easy - no hassles of substitutes etc...

I would use the calorie king to help you figure out general carb ranges. Definitely call the chef if you can. You can ask for lower carb alternatives or smaller proportions of higher carb foods too. I have found restaurants are usually very happy to accommodate those requests including timing when the food is brought out.

And it's nice to have choices! I simply love buffets, there are always vegetables to select from. As for figuring the carbs, I often use the old time "exchange" training I got way back when to measure my choices when I don't have a carb count. Just make healthy choices, not the heavy carb ones. And have fun at the retreat!

I had to train myself to eye out carbs in various foods I commonly eat. Took about a month but now I never second guess myself when eating out. I do not need to review nutrition facts for the most part and I avoid high glycemic index and very carby foods like potatoes.

Buy a nutrition scale (I have one by EatSmart). Make a list of the most common foods you eat. Take each of those foods and weigh out your common carbohydrate intake per meal. For example, I eat about 20g carbs per meal, so I weigh out about 20g of some food I regularly eat. I then stare at it. I mash it down, spread it out and get a good sense of what 20g of that food looks like. Now when I go out and there is, lets say, rice on the menu, when they serve me I push the rice into a little mound and I can say "That looks like more than my 20g rice mound..." Push aside the extra and I have just what I want. Apply for any food. Then you can say "I know 20g of rice is 4 units" and dosing becomes easy.