When it comes to lunchtime, I’m a creature of habit. I pack a similar lunch each day that consists of around 35-40 carbohydrates. I eat my lunch right around noon when I’m at work and a bit later in the day on weekends. During the workweek, I especially look forward to it because it’s a welcome break from the glare of the computer screen.
My feelings toward lunch change when my company chooses to provide food for its employees. Please don’t misconstrue me here—I think it is extremely generous for the company to take on the expense of feeding 40+ people every so often. I’m fortunate to be able to say that the business I work for cares about its employees.
So what’s my problem with company-sponsored lunches? It’s the fact that I must resort to the guessing game when it comes to calculating the carbohydrates in these meals. We alternate between pizza, barbeque, Chinese food, Panera, and other assorted takeout options. Usually, I try my best to look up carbohydrate counts online. It’s not difficult when we order from a place like Panera, which readily has nutritional information available. But when we order from smaller, specialty restaurants, I’m in a carbohydrate quandary.
I try my best to cope with this by choosing items that I can assume are lower carb; mainly, anything that contains vegetables or proteins like chicken. This helps sometimes, but other times my attempts to lower my carb intake backfire due to hidden carbs contained within sauces and similar accruements. When it comes to food that’s already tricky for a person with diabetes, like pizza, I’m left crossing my fingers and hoping that an extended bolus will prevent a latent spike in my blood sugar. But all too often, I wind up having to correct a high blood sugar in the late-afternoon work hours, which is frustrating—especially when I’m aware of the fact that bringing my own food would’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation.
The easy solution could be to opt out of these company lunches and continue to bring my own food, but that introduces a whole new crop of problems. I’ve tried this in the past and it lead to my co-workers asking me, repeatedly, why I’m not participating. I know they’re not trying to make me feel awkward or uncomfortable, but I can’t help feeling that way. It makes me seem anti-social, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, I’m often included in the head count when orders are placed with restaurants, so it doesn’t reflect well on me when I decline food that was purchased for my enjoyment.
I also don’t want to drive the stigma around people with diabetes being unable to eat certain foods—I frequently advocate that I’m in the camp that says we can eat whatever we like, just with mindfulness and moderation. It’s just that much easier to manage insulin dosages when I know the carb count of each of my meals.
So when it comes to work lunches, I try to accept the challenge of doing some trickier math at mealtime. I see it as a learning experience when I’m off the mark and my blood sugar isn’t wonderful hours later, and I’m pleased on the occasions when I do nail my carb counting. I roll with the punches, just like diabetes as a whole has taught me to do over the years.