Friday, August 20, 2010

Being Diabetic at a Buffet

This is a bit different than my usual articles and perhaps it is aimed at specific readers, but I want to share something important. To do so and make this understandable to all, I am going to explain Diabetes in the simplest of terms. This is a disease in which the body either does not produce insulin or is resistant to the insulin that it produces on its own. Insulin is important for survival and without its proper production or use a number of complications will occur in the body that could lead to eventual death. Now, that is what it is - and again in it simplest explanation. What leads to this condition is a variety of factors only one of which is heredity. People who are over-weight are prone to developing the disease, but believe me the skinniest of people also can be come Diabetic. To control the disease a variety of specific medications are prescribed - some Diabetics require that the insulin in their bodies be replaced and insulin is such that it can only be injected. Not all Diabetics take insulin. Some take oral medications and some take no medication but control themselves with diet and exercise. I need to make clear that traditionally Diabetes is always associated with sugar - and many believe that a Diabetic can never eat sugar or anything containing sugar and this is just not true. What a Diabetic needs to cut back on are carbohydrates - in any form - and this does include sugar, but it also includes potatoes, fruit, breads, pasta, and so much more. These do not have to be eliminated in the diet 100% but they do need to be reduced.

I have gone on above just to easily understand what I am about to write about. Knowing this, how could a Diabetic eat at a buffet? My answer is "easy!". What? Yes, in fact, I know from experience that a buffet is one of the best and easiest places to eat.

One of the problems with menu restaurants for a Diabetic is the limitations of what is on the menu and portion sizes. Either the portions are way to large or ridiculously low or the offerings just don't fit in to what one can eat - and they are site unseen. Now, go to a buffet. The portion sizes are up to you. If you want to eat something that perhaps is OK but only in a small amount, you take a small amount. Not sure what is on something - is that vegetable covered in breadcrumbs - at a buffet all you need to do is look.

Now, it does take a proper mindset of not going in to the buffet as a "free for all" eating marathon. There has to be a lot of self-control to pass up those tempting desserts or pass on the lasagna. But there are many choices and possibilities at a buffet for someone determined to enjoy the meal while keeping track of that to eat or not to eat.

At a buffet you will almost always find a salad bar and this is a wonderful place to fill up a plate and create a salad to your liking. Skip the croutons, pasta salads, or potato salad and pretty much you can eat as much as you care to eat. But you are not limited to the salad bar. Remember what I said - what needs to be limited are carbohydrates and while you will find many at a buffet that you may take in small amounts there are plenty of meats, fish, and vegetables to enjoy. As long as one does not go "overboard" there is no problem for a Diabetic at a buffet.

I have been Diabetic for many years - even before I started writing this site. Some of my lowest carb meals have been at buffets - maybe most of my lowest carb meals and I did not leave that buffet hungry. I have to actually watch that I eat enough carbs at a buffet meal. Yes, too few carbs can lead to too little sugar in your blood (the insulin controls the sugar in your blood and what your body does with it) and the result is a low blood sugar reaction which believe me is nothing anyone wants to go through too often - imagine being upside down on a roller coaster with blurry vision. At a recent visit to Shady Maple I was too careful about eating carbs and had this reaction on the drive home - not good at all. A Diabetic who is knowledgeable about what to eat and is actively working on control soon learns what can be eaten and what can't - and everyone's body is different so there are few universals. To learn this the Diabetic tests his/her blood with a simple prick of the finger and an small electronic meter that will tell you what your blood sugar (actually blood glucose) is at the moment. Test two hours after eating and you will know how that meal and those foods effect you. Complicated, not really. Necessary, absolutely.

So, as I have been rambling on here the point is that if you are a Diabetic or a member or your family is - or a friend - you all don't have to forget about going to a buffet. Just be wise and choose wisely. Eat and enjoy.

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