(Or, why I hate Chicken Caesar Salad)
One thing I often have problems with is eating out. When it’s just me and the husband, we have a few places we can go that I know the menu, that have relaxed attitudes to requests to serve the salad dressing on the side, or take out the fried croutons/bacon bits. I know that it’s fine for me to have a starter, and he’ll wait for his meal while I eat that, and I wait while he eats his pudding .
The problem arises when we go out with others. I have a difficult time with food – I have slow digestion (nothing to do with diabetes, just genetics) that means that the carbs in my meal take longer to get into my system than average, leading to some momentous hypos after meals in the past (something that the pump’s extended and multiwave bolus functions have helped with immensely). Certain foods make it much worse, such as rich, creamy sauces, and high levels of animal fats and protein. So I eat other things.
But when you go out, particularly with family, it’s difficult – I don’t want to upset relatives, even those foisted onto me by marriage. I, for one, don’t like to be the one who spoils the party.
So Bro-in-law books his latest favourite restaurant. And we all turn up, sit down, and get the menus out. First question: ‘Are we having starters?’ And the inevitable answer: ‘No, we’ll save ourselves for dessert. Let’s just go straight to main course, we’re really hungry.’ So I miss my starter. But I can’t eat the majority of the desserts (too sugary/creamy/rich/fatty – I used to have cheese board or ice-cream, but can no longer cope with the fat in either).
On to the main course choice. And it’s a full menu. Of unsuitable meals. Steak? (Too much animal protein.) Gammon? (Ditto, and added animal fat.) Salmon…in a creamy white wine sauce. (Don’t think so.) How about the pasta dishes? Carbonara? (Creamy…) Lasagne? (Cheese – fat, meat – animal protein…) Maybe I’ll have more luck with the vegetarian dishes – Aubergines fried in olive oil and served in a creamy rich sauce…never mind.
Try the salads. How can they mess up a salad for me? By putting crispy bacon bits in it (not on it, so they couldn’t possibly serve it without). Or serving it with prawns. (Not likely.) How about serving me one of the vaguely interesting starter salads for a main course? Oh no, we can’t do that. (And why in hell not?) So I end up back with the old ‘favourite’ – Chicken Caesar Salad. Without the deep fried croutons on top please? (Panicked look on waiter’s face. Oh forget it, I’ll take them off myself.) Can you serve the dressing on the side? (Because I’m the customer and I asked for you to do so? And because I’d like to actually have something to eat this evening, so write it down on your little pad.)
So I get my salad. And the rest of the party enjoy their meat-fest, and then go on to order their sickly/sticky/sugary/creamy desserts, while I have coffee. And they never manage to finish, because ‘they’re just too full’ (whilst I go back to the house and fill up on fruit and yoghurt, because I’m starving).
But I don’t complain (except to the husband, who ignores my complaints, and to my sister, who as a carer of a PWD, and enabled with an amazing amount of empathy, understands). I don’t mention that I’m being put out by the thoughtlessness of the rest of the party. I don’t say I’d like a starter when they wave off the suggestion, or point out, following the accusing glances as I order a coffee when no-one else does, that I’m not having a dessert. I just let things slide.
I’ve never been happy using my diabetes as an excuse for something, even when that something is getting a decent meal. I don’t want to stand out as difficult because I’m diabetic. And that’s what raising the issue feels like. It’s just another example of the hidden nature of diabetes. People forget or ignore it. And I put up with it. It is possible to be too thoughtful of other people’s feelings, at the expense of one’s own.
(But I do like Chicken Caesar Salad, really.)