Having Type 1 Diabetes may slow me down for some things, but never for something as important as a brunch with friends.
Brunch is known for its carbohydrate-filled dishes and sugary cocktails, which can be daunting for a Type 1 Diabetic to navigate properly. I have never denied myself a mimosa (or four) and strongly believe that life is about balance. I decided to put my thoughts into words and share with you my own personal rule book on helping my insulin-challenged self stay sane during the best meal of the day, brunch!
Before I begin to share my brunching secrets with the world, I want to reiterate, for the people in the back, that Type 1 Diabetics can eat anything we want. We can eat cakes, cookies, pastries, ice cream, and anything shown in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both versions). We simply take insulin to make up for the added carbohydrates. More information on the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes here.
Okay back to the important topic at hand.
No matter if I am enjoying brunch at home or from my favorite restaurant in town, I am thinking about how it’s going to affect my blood sugars. (Honestly, I think about this before eating, drinking or doing just about anything really) So naturally, I try to make smarter choices to make life a little easier on my body. For example, although I may want a giant stack of pancakes with maple syrup, I know myself well enough to understand that I probably won’t calculate my insulin dosage properly and end up feeling sick a few hours later with extremely high blood sugar. Instead, I may opt for “sugar-free” syrup and use it sparingly, or just order a smaller stack. Making compromises with the food I eat allows me to enjoy what I am consuming while decreasing the chances of ruining your blood sugars from one meal. A win-win in my book.
WHAT TO DRINK
If I am in the mood for mimosas, I need to make sure of one thing.
Can I control the amount of orange juice going into my mimosa? If the restaurant only offers premade mimosas, I pass. I would rather get a different drink than have to guess how much orange juice is in my mimosa. Orange juice spikes blood sugar very quickly, so it’s tricky to have to guess. Plus, diabetic mimosas are more fun anyways (just champagne and one splash of orange juice hehe).
If I am not in the mood for a mimosa, I am ordering a bloody mary. Unless they garnish it with a biscuit or something wild, it’s not going to have a ton of carbohydrates in it. Most of the time I don’t take insulin for bloody marys since the alcohol will naturally lower my blood sugar. However, alcohol affects everyone differently. You know your body best, so drink responsibly and bolus responsibly.
WHAT TO EAT
Just like my drinks, I like to make sure that I have a gameplan when selecting which entree to enjoy during brunch. My selection process starts with the question: Am I going to be ordering bottomless drinks or not? If I am going to be drinking more than usual during brunch, I need to make sure I am ordering more than just eggs. I need carbohydrates in my meal to fuel my body so that it can function like a normal human being while consuming fun bubbly drinks all morning. However, I don’t want to end up with blood sugars that I can’t predict, so pancakes, you’re OUT. There’s nothing worse than feeling like crap from not only drinking too much but also having high blood sugar.
That being said, anything like an omelet with a side of potatoes, a quiche, avocado toast with an egg on top, or even a breakfast bagel would be at the top of my list to pair with bottomless brunch.
If I want to be a sane person and order one or two drinks (or maybe none) while enjoying a relaxing brunch that ends at a normal time, then I might spice it up a bit when deciding on my entree. MAYBE I will even order some blueberry pancakes, my favorite.
Here is what I keep in mind with what I put on my plate:
Omelets – I really enjoy a nice egg fold with a bunch of vegetables, cheese, and meat inside of it. There are zero grams of carbohydrates in eggs, cheese, and meat, and minimal amounts in vegetables, making it very low carb. I prefer to pair omelets with a side of house potatoes or wheat toast with avocado to give my body some substance for the day.
I also made a quiche with spinach, mushrooms, and swiss cheese for my friends last weekend for the first time and they LOVED it.
Pancakes – Pancakes are like warm flat pieces of happiness but I have such a love/hate relationship with them. I don’t often order pancakes. I have a history of completely miscalculating my insulin and ending up feeling horrible 2 hours later when my blood sugar is 350. And don’t get me started on maple syrup. Did you know there is generally 50g of carbohydrates in TWO TABLESPOONS? That’s like one good lick. How is it even just in this world that maple syrup is deadly if it tries hard enough.
And I know what you’re thinking. “Well, what about sugar-free syrup?” Have you ever tried sugar-free maple syrup? It tastes like regular maple syrup’s weird cousin that your parents tell you to keep your distance from. It tastes like regular maple syrup is yelling “hey” from a mile away. It tastes like someone washed it in the sink and then put it back in the bottle. It just doesn’t try as hard, and it still has about 20g of carbohydrates in 2 tablespoons. It’s the thought that counts, I guess. BTW: If you know a great tasting low carb syrup please let me know ok sharing is caring.
So ANYWAYS, if I am ordering pancakes, I make sure to pre-bolus (take my insulin 15-30 mins before eating), use trace amounts of sugar-free syrup (I’m compromising, okay), and savor gods gift to breakfast.
FINAL THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER
- Pace Yourself: Brunch is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re drinking, take your time and make sure you eat the meal portion of the event. Take your insulin after you order the food, but before it comes to your table. That way your body is ready for the carbohydrates you’re about to throw at it. And if the food takes too long and you start to drop low, just ask for orange juice. They won’t even think it’s a weird request at this hour!
- Keep an Eye on Your Blood Sugars: If you are hesitant to have a brunch cocktail or worried about how some french toast will fare with your body, watch your sugars! Test a few more times during the morning, or keep an eye on your CGM.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up If Your Sugars End Up Out of Wack: We are not perfect. No matter how many units of insulin we have taken over the years, or how many times we have enjoyed a big brunch, one small calculation can swing our numbers out of whack. It happens! Try to enjoy the day knowing you are doing the best you can do.
Cheers to bolus friendly brunchin’ & bottomless diabetic mimosas!