On the menu

Menu from Delmonico's restaurant in lower Manhattan from the year 1899. Image credit: Wikipedia.

Menu from Delmonico’s restaurant in lower Manhattan from the year 1899.
Image credit: Wikipedia/public domain

As I alluded to last week, I’ve kind of hit a dry-spell when it comes to finding blogging inspirations in my own head. But I have found inspiration though other blogs, and today’s inspiration comes from Moira’s “Hope In My Hands/Let It Be Me” post on Despite Diabetes. This post is about a closed-loop system trial, sometimes known as an Artificial (or Bionic) Pancreas. (You can read the long version on Glu, here in parts one, two, three, four, and five).

The description of a life (somewhat) without diabetes (management) was certainly alluring, and of course that image in part 1 kicked in my skepticism, concluding that my body can’t afford to increase the rate of scar-tissue buildup five-fold with all those infusion and CGM sites. After a month, I’d be done.

But what really struck home, referring back to Moira’s post, was a more tangential aspect of diabetes management. It was the anecdote of how Anna, while hooked up to the closed-loop system, was able to look at a restaurant menu and order a dish based on how it tastes, or simply what kind of mood she was in.

Imagine that!

I can’t remember the last time I looked at a menu and tried to decide what dish was appealing at the time. When I read a menu, I don’t see words that describe how the food tastes, I see words that describe the carbs and blood sugar impact.

If appetizers are in order, I look for the one with the most protein and least carbs (chicken wings, not onion rings).

For the entree, I skip right over the pasta section. I try to skip the burgers, because of the huge bun and accompanying french fries. Usually that leaves the meat-and-potatoes dishes.

Next, I look at the sauces. Barbecue is definitely out. Teriyaki is out. Tomato can be tricky. “Balsamic reduction” as I’ve learned, could go either way. A seasoning described as cajun or blackened usually works for me. Butter or white-wine sauces are good too.

Hard-shell tacos always trump soft-shell tacos. A bean-burrito is a big no-no.

IHOP adds “a splash of pancake batter” to their omelettes to make them light and fluffy. Gotta look out for that.

I’m quite convinced that Dunkin’ Donuts puts sugar in their tuna-bagel sandwich. I don’t get that anymore.

When I’m dining out, eventually, I narrow down the menu to one or two options, then I can let my personal preferences make the final decision. Often, I find one thing at a restaurant that works for me (or: that I figure out how to make work), and I order the same thing every time. (Yes, I choose the bad stuff sometimes, knowingly, and pay the price later. It’s all part of the internal negotiation process).

A few years ago, New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg mandated calorie counts be put on all menus. I thought that might help — after all, I know that each gram of carbohydrate or protein has 4 calories and each gram of fat has 9. I figured I could do some reverse-math, but it doesn’t seem to work. The myriad choices that come with those entrees lead to calorie counts listed as “415 to 2850” which are completely useless, even to a person without T1D.

So — if there was one thing that I would look forward to if I didn’t have to count carbs?

It would be choosing what I want to eat … based on what I want to eat.

Using a menu for the purpose it was intended.

Is that too much to ask?

Posted on April 11, 2013, in Diabetes, Personal, Type 1. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the shout out!


  2. I practically cried when I read that part of the restaurant on Moira’s blog. I do the exact same thing at restaurants, Scott. Pick 3-5 things that “might” work and then select from that. Last night I made fettuccine because it’s one of my fiance’s favorites, and try as I might, I was sitting in the 200s for about 4 hours after. One day!! We will eat freely again!!


  3. I love reading about other diabetics’ perspectives on everyday life. Perspectives that are so counter the norm, it’s hard for people to grasp. Yet, even within the “bubble” of T1Ds perspectives differ wildly — It’s great to see how other people are working through some of the same issues I do…Thanks Scott for sharing the info!


  4. It’s a completely mind-blowing concept for me.


  5. The sheer thought of being able to do that is wonderful and scary as sh!t to me. Maybe I’m a control freak, but I just can’t see myself relaxing and trusting the system to work. While it would be great to go to Olive Garden and get the most wonderful carbalicious pasta bowl ever… I just can’t see myself doing it.


    • Forget the electromechanical systems! With the knowledge I have now, I can’t imagine how a non-D person’s pancreas can keep up with a bottomless bowl of Fetucinni Alfredo and a 32-ounce Coke. That meal is like, what, 400 carbs?


  6. especially when you’re invited out to a restaurant and on first scan there isn’t ANYTHING you know you can safely eat, so you go back over it trying to make the least worst choice 😦


  1. Pingback: Travels with D | d-meanderings


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s