Diabetes Ratings for Restaurants?

I think that there should be diabetes ratings for restaurants.

I don’t mean that they would be rated on how “healthy” their food is or even if the food is high carb. I am mostly smart enough to identify cr*p food and make my choices accordingly. I want restaurant chains to be evaluated for the accuracy of the carb counts in their nutrition information. And maybe I want to add glycemic load to that evaluation. 

I want to know if I bolus my insulin based on the posted carb count of the food I choose, do I have a chance in h*ll of having a good blood sugar result?

Based on my experiences this week and actually over several years, the first failing grades I would give would be to McDonald’s and Panera Bread.

I don’t eat out very often because except for eggs, sausage, bacon, and chicken, I rarely find things to order that aren’t going to trash my blood sugar. Even scrambled eggs aren’t safe because some restaurants add pancake batter to the eggs to make them fluffy. Sometimes the problem is that it is difficult to pre-bolus my insulin if I have to drive to the restaurant. If my blood sugar is slightly low, normal, or even slightly elevated, I believe it is dangerous to take insulin early and run the risk, albeit slight, of an accident, car trouble, or traffic jam that delays my access to food. I always have glucose tabs with me, but who wants to ruin a meal with an appetizer of cherry-flavored chalk?

On Sunday I went to McDonald’s with my 6-year old granddaughter on the way to a theater event. I planned my insulin for 1/2 of a bun with my quarter-pound hamburger. No cheese or condiments. Just meat and 1/2 of a bun. I pre-bolused 1/2 unit of insulin at home and extended another 1 unit over 20 minutes. When we got to the restaurant I bolused for 30 grams of carbs for 1/2 of a bun and didn’t subtract the 1-1/2 units of insulin on board. The nutrition info shows a Quarter Pounder with the whole bun having a total of 35g carb. So 1/2 of a bun bolused for double the carbs with an extra 1-1/2 units of insulin should have worked. Nope. Within 20 minutes I had double-up arrows in the high 100’s and reached the high-200’s at the peak. I frankly think that there is no food that hits my blood sugar faster than McDonald’s hamburger buns. Well, except for the hamburger buns at In & Out Burger….

I blame myself somewhat for this scenario because it happens every time. Every single time. But once in a while I just want to eat a hamburger with 1/2 of a bun. Actually I would love to eat a hamburger with a whole bun…. So McDonald’s gets an F in terms of being diabetic-friendly because the BG impact of its hamburger buns isn’t close to the posted carb count.

And I get an F because I am stubborn and stupid enough to think I can ever succeed at eating there.

I met a diabetes friend at a local Panera Bread restaurant for lunch yesterday. I get more frustrated with Panera than any other restaurant probably because it pretends to be “healthy.” I can’t count the times that I have bolused based on the carb counts provided and had horrendous blood sugars. My game plan is to at least double the carb count on their website and pre-bolus as much as possible. I keep looking for one food besides Caesar salad that I can eat there without bad BG results. I haven’t found it yet. Yesterday I had a bowl of Ten Vegetable soup. The posted carb count was 16 grams. I bolused for 35 grams in addition to a 200% temp basal that I had started 30 minutes earlier. 

I didn’t take a screen shot of the 158 double-arrows up 20 minutes into the meal, but here is a watch screenshot an hour later. Interestingly when I see a photo of the soup on the Panera website, it shows chunks of colorful vegetables. Mine must have been the gruel at the bottom of the pot because there were no chunks of vegetables and it really wasn’t very good. Regardless it was another failed experience at Panera and I really wonder how the nutrition info on their website is determined. Maybe monkeys playing roulette….

Panera’s salads can also be minefields because when I last checked, the only salad dressing without sugar or honey is the Caesar dressing. I suspect that my best menu choice would have been a Caesar salad with chicken and no croutons. However, I am coming off a recent bad experience of being sick after a salad at a local restaurant. Was it the shrimp or lettuce? Not sure, but I am avoiding restaurant salads for the moment.

In my book, Panera Bread gets an F-rating for the reliability of the carb counts. Once again I get an F by continuing to think I can eat any of their food. I wonder if I would do better by just having a sandwich, savoring every bite, and just accepting the high BG despite a magnum bolus. Or maybe just having iced tea and not eating.

But the rumor is that carbs float in the air at restaurants and your blood sugar is going to spike no matter what…..

Are these restaurant experiences the end of the world? No. My blood sugar eventually returned to a good range. The major frustration was trying to do diabetes right by considering carb counts and taking extra insulin and still failing miserably.

Oh well, another imperfect day in my life with diabetes.

7 thoughts on “Diabetes Ratings for Restaurants?

  1. There are just not any good answers when it comes to “dining out” (so-to-speak). Even when you think it is or might be consistent there are so many variables you just can’t know about.

    I like the Mushroom/Swiss Burgers from Whataburger and one time I can easily control the BGs resulting from one of those burgers. The next time my BG takes off like a rocket. I did the same carb counts, same bolus, same extended bolus and NOT the same result.

    I’ve purposely taken 3-4 days of eating the exact same items (all at home and somewhat controlled) at the exact same times with the same exercise, sleep, etc.. And one would think that my BGs would be the same … well, that is a pipe dream. Not that they went wild, but they were different for each of the 3-4 days.

    So … Go Figure???!!!

    Good post Laddie.

  2. Argh! So frustrating… nothing like working hard to calculate and even base your dose on experience plus the info given, and still have bad results!
    And I love your carb count monkey roulette!! Maybe the vegetable soup was actually composed of beets, carrots and pumpkin… 🎃

  3. Oh I am so frustrated by misidentified carbohydrate counts. When I dine out I just routinely add all the posted counts in my food and add 10 carbs. It says 5, I do 15. it says 50, well, I might add 15. 10 carbs is about 1 unit for me. It is true sometimes i miss and go low, but it happens so rarely and I hate being high so it is worth it to me to take a risk.

    In my estimation Laddie, they all get F’s, well except Mrs. Phillips of course. She always gets an A+.

  4. I don’t eat out a lot cuz I simply dislike the quality of food that most restaurants serve. My standby for when I think that I’m not capable of cooking another diabetes friendly meal is Subway sub salad with the Italian spicy meat (heated). I indulge in the 5 packs of Club crackers without an outrageous effect on my bld sugar. My other standby is (2) Cracker Barrel house salads with a few croutons and 4 packages of white looking crackers. Yipppee!!!!
    I used to look forward to eating at Whole Foods Market food court. I can usually do ok there….but beware of their tasty looking salads…most have added sugar!!!
    My endo gave me a sample of Fiasp. I ate something the other nite, not an unusual something and ended up having to make a correction. Bingo!!! Fiasp to the rescue. I did may b 3 units via injection. My bld sugar was back down in a flash!! I liked that. Not something I want get in the habit of doing but at those times I need a reasonable restaurant carb fix I’d carry it with me & use if necessary.

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