Are you sure you can eat that? Dining with non-diabetics – Type One Style
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Are you sure you can eat that? Dining with non-diabetics

Published: 08 Jan 2022, Author: Charlie Cawsey

This is about helping non-diabetics with positive messaging, so that they can change their behavior and make you feel better.

“Can you eat that?”

This is a question that we are often asked by non- diabetics - especially when eating out.

But before you get cross, remember that they don’t know about blood glucose control, they don’t know what’s best for you, but they are probably trying to look out for you the best they can.

Yes, it’s frustrating getting this question CONSTANTLY, but if it’s coming from a good place we should try and give them the benefit of the doubt and educate them a little bit.

Perhaps, in a few weeks, they aren’t worried and will let you get on with doing you. This is a critical part. Most of us have anxiety. I mean, who doesn’t in 2022? This means that often the people that care about us most will consistently ask the most low-key annoying questions, because they are worried and want to look after us.  

But what sort of thing could we tell them? Would they understand?

Obviously, some people pick things up quicker than others. But you should always be able to say that your Dexcom or Freestyle Libre tell you what your sugars are, and because you have a “live feed” (do they really need to know it’s every 5 minutes? Not really, keep it simple) you know what impact the food will have, and you’ll be okay.

Use confident language, show them you are an expert

Tell people that your meal is a “textbook” case of eating as a T1D. You know that that burger has about 60g of carbs in it, including the bun, so you’ll have X units before. And tell them that because you opted for a double whopper with extra cheese, no pickle, you’ll have a bolus about an hour afterwards as well when the fat has been metabolized and starts entering your bloodstream as glucose.

Often, when we hit people with numbers or math, we win the conversation instantly.

But ultimately, this helps quell their anxiety because you become a subject matter expert in that moment, and they will be reminded that you are the expert in the care of your own body.

So what do we say when they ask “can you eat that”?

“Of course I can”

You can eat whatever you like. What you eat isn’t the problem, it’s the amount of insulin you have in response (because we don’t have an auto-calculating pancreas anymore). You can have a 15” meat feast pizza or a banana – mess up the bolus, you’ll go high either way.

What you eat is not relevant

What they really want when they ask this question, is to know that you know what to do and will be fine. They want to know you will bolus correctly.

They’re scared something might go wrong or be mis-calculated and you’ll be unwell. This happens in diabetes, there’s thousands of factors that influence your sugars.

There is no right answer for anything, it’s all dependent on your adaptability in the moment, and how in tune you are with your specific diabetes.

So next time you are out, and someone asks you this annoying question, remember it’s coming from a good place.

Think about why they are asking the question – they aren’t asking it to annoy you, I’m sure there are much more annoying things they could say with that goal. Thank them for their concern and explain to them how much of a genius you are. Do this a few times, they’ll stop asking.

Here’s a top tip to take home

No type 1 diabetics are psychic. Well, some are, but we'll talk about that another day. Anyhow we’ve all been there, giving a pre-bolus when the food is about to come out, only for it to take another 20 minutes, only to get some very bad news from our Dexcom.

When you order your food, tell the waiter you are diabetic and ask for a 5-minute warning on when the food is coming. You can also ask for a list of the nutritional ingredients, or if this information is available on their website, so that you can more accurately pre-bolus. If this information is not available, choose the dish you want, and ask them to check the packaging in the kitchen.

You’ll be surprised how many people will do this to help you.

This information is a guide and might not be explicitly helpful for you. Your friends might be mean or a whole range of things that we, as authors, cannot possibly predict or cater for. This is a guide designed to inform and help those that are struggling with this topic and no other audience. This guide is also to help non-diabetics understand the perspective of a T1D when this question is asked. The content of this guide is NOT a reflection or inference or comparison in any way or form against your personal circumstances or your understanding of general T1D audiences and groups, or your friendship group. If you have taken offence to this guide please write in detail to We appreciate and explicitly action all constructive feedback.

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