So what exactly is the etiquette for eating at someone’s house? Obviously, we can’t drink sugary drinks or eat desserts, so how do you turn down certain foods and beverages while still being polite and social? I’ve been in several situations where I went ahead and ate or drank something just to not stand out like a sore thumb. Is that what we are suppose to do ?
I would never drink a sugary drink, even for the Queen of England or the Pope. Why would a diabetic do that? That just doesn’t make sense. It’s hard enough to keep our bgs level when we eat sensibly. To throw caution to the wind, and drink a sugared drink? No way!
Now if I was hypo, sure, I’d drink some carbs, but not just to “make nice” or as you put it, “to not stick out”.
I’d just reply “no, thank you”. A seasoned host or hostess will usually offer an alternative or ask for a preference…and take a firm “no, thanks” with good grace.
but if you are type 1 and really eat low-carb (like 60 grams a day) and they have a high carb meal, like potatoes and a breaded meat, just go ahead and eat it, right?
I just tell people the truth. If I don’t want to eat it because it’s going to spike my blood sugar or because it’s something I’m allergic to (or I don’t know the ingredients, or it’s sitting next to something I’m allergic to), I just tell them that. Not much they can argue with. I’m not willing to risk my health just to make someone feel better. I also often say that it looks delicious, but I’ll have to enjoy it vicariously. When people have gone on and on about why I’m not eating, or how I’m missing out on such good food, I’ve told them that it’s more enjoyable for me to not eat the food and relax with good company than to eat it and worry about dealing with whatever consequences eating the food would cause (whether that’s the risk of an allergic reaction or high blood sugar for hours or going low by SWAGing a bolus).
I think what you’re asking kind of boils down to “When do you drop the D-bomb in a social gathering?” I always find this situation aggravating because there’s a whole ritual around the offering and refusal and cajoling of acceptance of deserts at parties, the terms of which do NOT apply to the decision process I’m going through as a person with T1, and then I have to decide whether to explain that no, it’s not because “I’m trying to watch my waistline,” but because I’d have to take a wonking great insulin bolus for that chunk of cake and if I don’t calculate it right I’m going to wake up at 2am crashing, so it’s not something I’m looking to be argued out of"–all of which can be something of a buzzkill. But over the years I’ve decided that on balance it’s simpler if I just explain why I’m declining the offer and leave at that. More often than not it opens a discussion about T1 and a chance to do a little educating before the conversation moves on to other things.
I’m with others, @Cocheze…I try to think of it as a teaching moment, starting with @CatLady06’s no thank you. And I always have some high protein emergency food in my purse–a little string cheese and a lo carb pita, for instance—I know it sounds weird, but I’m too old to be bothered much by weird these days. I think @DrBB captures the awkwardness well.
I’ve also found that most events have something I can eat—if I have to “fool around” with it, I joke about how I tell my grandson that now he gets to watch his Gramma “play with her food.”
It gets easier after you’ve done it a few times. And it’s a lot easier than feeling wretched later!..Blessings…
In a restaurant I will often leave carbs such as potatoes or rice on the plate. I eat more carbs than you do and will even skip bread, pasta, etc. just to have the dessert when I am out to dinner. My friends usually tell me what they are planning when we go their homes for dinner (we all do it–seems like a lot of people have some kind of food issue these days) and don’t bat an eye when I pass on anything at a meal. In any case, be firm and polite and as @Jen says, don’t jeopardize your health!
Even on my cross country Amtrak trips, I found nobody batted an eye when I ordered a hamburger, hold the bun, give me some extra vegies instead of chips—for instance…As you said, wait staffs, bless there hearts, have gotten used to it by now, I think!..
I just don’t eat the potatoes, rice, or bread. I scrape the breaded off the meat or fish. Pasta is more difficult, but I manage to eat very little of the pasta. I am polite but firm in my refusal, after all it is me that feels ill after eating high carb, not the hostess.
I eat whatever I want. I don’t fuss about it. A lot of times, I’m eating less food or drinking gin and soda more because of my pantsometer than my glucometer. I don’t get saying “I can’t eat ____” as I have eaten almost everything at one point in time or another but, on many occasions it’s just that I don’t want to bother. But that’s a want, not a “can’t”.
A simple “no thanks” is suffice for me, or I’ll take a super small portion. My T2 father and I like to joke that everything is only 5g of carbs (depending on the portion size), and I found that my blood sugars can survive eating a tiny tiny bit of what I want to eat. Most of the time, I only want a few nibbles anyways and not a plate-full.
[quote]I don’t get saying “I can’t eat ____” as I have eaten almost everything
at one point in time or another but, on many occasions it’s just that I
don’t want to bother. But that’s a want, not a “can’t”.[/quote]
I sort of agree about the “want” and “can’t” thing, technically diabetes isn’t a “can’t” in the way something like a food allergy is. But I also think that, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether someone doesn’t want to eat something because they don’t want to deal with hours of high blood sugar, or deal with a middle-of-the-night low from taking a guess at an insulin dose, or deal with being up all night feeling sick instead of sleeping, or deal with a trip to the hospital for an allergic reaction (which, in my opinion, is really the only true “can’t” in this list). If someone doesn’t want to eat something because it will result in potential health consequences, and saying “can’t” is the only way to make people back off on convincing them to try something, then go for it.
When I’m not eating something because of diabetes, I usually say something like, “No, thanks, my blood sugar’s a bit high right now,” or, “No, thanks, I’d have to take a guess at the insulin dose and don’t really want to do that.” What bothers me about food isn’t when I turn it down, but when people won’t leave me alone about not trying something. “Oh, it’s so good! Just try a little bit. You can eat around the part you’re allergic to, can’t you? Come on, just taste it. So-and-So made it last night, it’s sooooo good! Are you sure you don’t want any? Is there anything else I can get you? Are you sure? I feel so bad you’re not able to enjoy anything!”
When I tell someone I can’t eat a food, or even that I don’t want to eat a food, that should be the end of it. Often, I literally have to tell people that I carry EpiPens and my throat will close if I eat a food before they will back off. It’s crazy to me that accepting food is so important socially that only the prospect of imminent death is an appropriate reason for turning it down.
Jen, these are exactly the kind of comments that make me feel socially inept. I know that the host/hostess and others are really just trying to give me explicit permission to enjoy myself but their repeated attempts border on on rudeness. That’s an awkwardness that I have no nuanced way to politely defuse. Then bringing up plain medical reality makes my remark seem even ruder than what provoked it!
An earlier comment already stated that the seasoned host/hostess will not force this issue because they understand. It’s more likely to happen out of ignorance when most people at the table have never met me before, like when I’m the +1 attendee.
Thank you for raising this interesting discussion. The social side of diabetes is much more complicated to me than all the tactical gambits I use to manage my BGs.
Yes indeed. That was the situation I was getting at in my response too. Generally I’m with the rest of the crowd here about just politely declining, no big deal–in a big party no one’s even going to notice. It’s just that thing where people are being “friendly” in this way–I think that’s really what they intend, mostly–when I feel like I need to say enough to make clear that I’m actually not looking for an excuse to indulge. And of course you CAN always bolus for something, and of course sometimes I do, but most of the time, particularly at dinner parties, it’s just a royal pain in the behind to deal with because of the overnight/unpredictability problem. I find something along the lines of “I can have that but I have to take insulin for it and it’s just a lot simpler for me to abstain” usually covers it because as soon as people understand it’s medical they can let go of the impulse and aren’t offended.
I don’t find “just having a bite” really works for me. My self control is fine for “No” but totally unreliable once the boundary is breached. When I quite smoking waaaayyyy back in my 20s it was absolutely cold turkey and I never had another puff–that was the only way it was going to work. Actually it was only a year or two before I got T1, and in a way it was a good preparation, because back then there were a lot of absolute no-no’s, though we had that “exchange” nonsense that I don’t think anyone ever really mastered. I know I didn’t, though I more or less tried to…
Convergent comments alert!
But yeah I have the same misgivings about “dropping the D bomb.” It’s a little bit like answering the conventional “How’s it going” with “Well, I’ve been told I only have six months to live.” Kind of a buzzkill. Over the years my version has evolved to keeping it minimal. “I have to take insulin for it” seems to work for me without feeling like it derails the whole flow of the party.
That seems like a reasonable middle-ground. I’m much better with the written word than the spoken one, particularly when it comes to calibrated nuance. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.
My husband and I tell people what to expect before we arrive, and we offer to bring alternatives that we can enjoy. Often, people who are inviting us to a meal will go out of their way to make sure we are taken care of once they understand our dietary parameters. And, even more often, the gluten free, no sugar added and low carb dessert I bring is enjoyed by everyone
If we are going to a party (and we don’t very often–just not how we roll) we bring our own stash of snacks.
I hate to say this but I’m afraid the food aspect of being social has made me less likely to go to parties or other social gatherings where food might be. oh how I dreaded classmate’s birthday parties at school! Fresca and pretzel sticks while everyone else savored on cupcakes and Coke. And you better believed I’ve got made fun of . . . A LOT.
I do believe it. It makes a huge difference whether you were dx’d with this thing as a kid or an adult, even a young adult as I was. Having to go through El-Hi with it is a whole different thang. And clearly a lot of those attitudes are going to stay with you well into adulthood.