Family time = good food association

I know this site is all about being unlimited, and I AM working toward trying to dose correctly to enjoy more foods, but the balance is really hard, especially when it comes to spending time with my family. My family is allll about yummy food - a large part of any vacations growing up was what we ate; my mom is a fantastic cook - she also goes all out for holidays, birthdays, hosting others, etc. Family life is basically good food. But the good food I ate growing up doesn’t translate into good for blood sugar food. Several of my family members visited this weekend, also celebrating my toddler’s upcoming birthday, and I spent more time than I’d like bouncing between highs and borderline lows or just staying high. I was even almost entirely in control of the food as the main cook, but my choices obviously didn’t work out. I’m not sure how to break the association between food and family time so that I can enjoy visiting/vacationing with family without going too crazy on carbs, especially with all my food restrictions that limit my options. I’m just feeling kind of discouraged tonight.


@Pianoplayer7008, my family is all about food, heavy carb food (and fat) in the old times! I thought this would all have to go when my son was diagnosed.

Over the course of the last 18 months, I have reinvented almost all of our old recipes, but going much higher on vegetables, using less fat, increasing the glycemic index and decreasing the carb count. I have my count of failures, but there are very few that I have not been able to do over. My major failure so far is pancakes – but almost every main dish I have been able to reinvent, even difficult ones.

Here is an example I think you will enjoy: I am able to make paella again: I make paella almost exactly the same way as Jambalaya :slight_smile: What I did:

  • I only use (much less) olive oil
  • I start with sauteed onion and garlic with some tomato paste, and enrich the flavor right there with roasted spices
  • I use only a little bit of very strong tasting sausage (just for the taste, so as not to add too much fat), a lot of chicken, shellfish, lots of veggies, some lean pork
  • I experimented until I found long grain rice that my son won’t spike on (for us it’s brown basmati), and that’s what I add to the stock. Because there are so many veggies and so much shellfish, I can use less rice.
    In the end, we have a delicious recipe, with very strong flavor, lowish in carbs, and not enough fat to cause a double spike.

So it IS possible!

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YUM! :smiley:

I think that’s part of my problem - with my muscle disorder, I need fat and carbs, so I’ve adjusted some, but can only go so far. Same with sugar - can’t have any substitutes, so it’s pretty much an all or nothing thing. I just need to figure it out, but when I’m actually with family, I don’t want to be seriously experimenting, so things just go crazy. Guess that means I need to occasionally experiment with “special” foods each month (oh, darn… :wink: ).

That’s actually something I DO have a good recipe for, at least carb-wise (2-3g carbs/pancake). It’s made with almond flour, though, so lots of fat.

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Do you need a lot of both, or just some? Do 50-60 carb meals work for you?

No substitutes at all? Aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, erythritol, stevia?

[EDIT] we still use honey, btw – but just a bit, for the taste not the sugar content

I do 25 for breakfast (any more and I have a bad spike) and anywhere from 30-60 for lunch/dinner. But I also snack and eat 15-30 2-3x a day. That seems to work really well, and I can probably cut down closer to 30-45/meal and 15/snack if I tried When I got down under 100 carbs/day while pregnant, I had no energy and my muscles ached all the time. Technically I was told 70%(!) of my daily calories should come from carbs, but I don’t know how accurate that is for me, personally, as I’m obviously doing less than that and I’m ok. :slightly_smiling_face:

Unfortunately not. I react to every single one. I can do small amounts of monkfruit, and that’s it, though I’m not 100% sure I’ll be able to keep that up, as my breastfed baby might be reacting to me eating it (he reacts to stevia, too; the only other I’ve tried while breastfeeding). I use coconut sugar and agave syrup most of the time, in limited quantities (pretty much only for occasional desserts).

That’s not so bad. That’s typically what we do too, except that we are more limited for breakfast (my son spikes for almost anything at breakfast).

Major bummer.

Are you positive you tried every one? Even old-fashioned saccharine, or erythritol?

Agave syrup has a longer rise time but you still need to pay for the carbs unfortunately.

That’s good to know. I’ve been feeling like a horrible diabetic lately. :laughing: Especially since the Afrezza gives me the freedom to bump up to 70-80 carb meals sometimes (if I’m really careful).

I haven’t tried saccharine, no - I keep forgetting it exists as it’s not the most popular. I’ve tried everything else, though. I guess I’ll have to try it and see if baby and I both tolerate it - thanks for reminding me about it!

I bought the agave syrup to try, and honestly, I’m not sure it’s any different than honey for me. Coconut sugar really does make a difference, but I’m not sure yet that agave is different. And I like how honey tastes better, anyway, so I’ll probably go back to it when I run out of the agave.

I also just need to find a better system for recording things (right now I use the mySugr app), because as my husband just pointed out, it’s hard to look back and see how disastrous certain things are (like a small baked potato…) when it’s on an app. I would probably be more motivated to avoid those, or know better how to dose differently, if I was recording things differently.

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I completely understand where you’re coming from. EH’s family and mine tends to gather around food at the holidays, and there’s actually some guilt associated with what we don’t eat. Like, my family can’t figure out what a carbohydrate is, and likes to declare that EH “can’t eat certain things”. And EH’s family attempts to be helpful, but that results in bad tasting food. And truthfully, the fakes don’t work out very well (last year at Thanksgiving someone made sugarfree pumpkin pie filling flavored coolwhip pudding because EH “can’t do sugar OR gluten” and they were awful. Please, allow us to moderate ourselves and eat a small portion? Or not?) It’s certainly kind when people try, but the “sugarfree” stuff sometimes has carbs anyhow, so you do pay for it later.

Anyhow, if you can come up with a way to bond with your family that leaves food out of it (or have a shed load of self control like EH) it can be helpful. I’m sorry though. It’s so complicated. And food is so intricately intertwined with our relationships and connections with others.

Out of curiouity, does your family try to support your celiac diagnosis and whatnot?

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I think you might mean decreasing the glycemic index? :wink:

I agree with @Michel. If you’re in charge of the food, it’s probably possible to make lower-carb (or whatever you need to avoid) versions without the guests even knowing. If you’re not the one doing the cooking, communicate your needs to the cook and see if they can accommodate. I’ve had two meals with extended family over the past three weeks and both have accommodated my severe food allergies (which is no small commitment from them, since the food I’m allergic to was present and all it takes is one moment of cross-contact — someone forgetting to wash their hands before touching my food or using the wrong spoon to serve — for me to react). I usually also offer to bring my own food, because I’m going for the company and don’t want the host to be stressed out trying to accommodate my needs (though often, such as this past week, they will insist).

So far I haven’t put any requests in for low carb foods, because my allergies are the thing that could kill me and having high blood sugar for a night won’t. But they always know I have diabetes so do avoid the sugar, and since dairy is one of my allergies it’s in everything, so usually my meals end up being fairly low-carb anyway such as veggies and meat.

As a kid I had several traumatic experiences where adults would insist that food was safe for me but didn’t know about cross-contamination and so I’d take a bite and have an anaphylactic reaction. And then a few years ago I was developing some new allergies and having problems with my immune system reacting to literally everything, so for a while would react every time I tried to eat out. So for a time I was very distrusting of any food I hadn’t prepared myself—and I’m still very cautious of that. And, most recently, I’ve been using a very low-carb diet to help control my diabetes. So I, too, am re-establishing the balance between food and friends and safety.

I always tell people that I never mind bringing my own food, but if they offer to accommodate me I work with them to make it happen (and restaurants I will eat at if they seem to understand allergies, if not then I have something to drink while everyone else eats). The rule I tell most people is that in order to eat food they’ve made or bought I have to read the ingredients and see the nutritional label. If those things aren’t available (especially the ingredients) then I don’t eat it. It is a fine balance to achieve, and if you have less severe restrictions than I do, then it’s probably quite achievable.

When I bring food to something like an office potluck or to a party or when I watch everyone else at at a restaurant while I have a drink, I just tell people that the occasion is more about the company than it is about the food. Which, unless you’re at a cooking contest, it usually is, even though the food may seem to take centre stage.


Honestly, I will never limit my sons food unless we find that his BG’s just can’t be controlled otherwise. I don’t want him to do without “yummy” food so our goal is to learn how to deal with his BG’s so that he isn’t limited. At least in my experience, FOOD has been 50% of the joy in my life…it’s a wonderful experience. I eat mainly to survive, but I enjoy the process of eating…all the tastes, senses, emotional connections, everything that goes with eating good foods, with friends and family.

My goal is to learn and to teach Liam how to enjoy these foods AND have proper BG management. How do we and he do this? Experiment - fail. Experiement - fail. Experiment - fail. Experiment - SUCCEED! Once we’ve found the successful dosing method necessary, we will be more prone to future successes. Without testing and failing, we will never know what works and if we never find what works, we can never enjoy those yummy foods. So I personally have resolved to NEVER restricting my son; rather, learning and teaching him how to find the correct method of dosing for EVERY situation so that he is never limited.

This is again with the caveat that if we find a food does super wacky things to his BG’s that we just can’t find a proper method of testing for we may remove those foods from his diet…but so far that’s not been the case. With enough testing, I believe (at least in our case so far) everything is manageable IF you can accept those initial failures that you WILL have. We learn to crawl before we learn to walk and run.


The association is as old as human history, so good luck trying to break it. :persevere:

Having just survived another Canadian Thanksgiving, the good thing about big gatherings [and sorry about the misplaced modifier] is that there tends to be a range of food, and it tends to be served family style, which makes it tons easier for you to choose the low-carb options without offending anyone. (I’m just focusing on carbs here. Food allergies and so on are a whole other challenge.)

I tend not to deny myself particular foods (except processed garbage, which even as a kid I was never interested in). Though the approach is anathema to many, like @ClaudnDaye I’ve experimented and experimented with those high-carb items and found the carb percentages that work for me – knowing at the same time that with those options comes that chase-your-own-tail-for-a-day game of too much carb = too much insulin = too much wackiness. It’s a personal choice. Some people avoid those foods at all costs. Me, I’d rather enjoy a slice of delicious pie than decline it because “it’s too much trouble.” Most of us don’t eat this way every day, or even every week or month, anyway, and so once in a while ain’t gonna kill me. I hope. (And if it does, I had fun on the way.)


When I think of ways I’d prefer to die…there are really only two. The first I won’t mention here…but the other is dying in the middle of some delicious bite of X (fill in X with your favorite food)


We find the T1 aspect easy by comparison. The Celiac aspect is extremely difficult.

T1 - Best guess and make additional corrections. We have this.

Celiac contamination - ranges from violent vomit to maybe only dealing with mild GI discomfort for some days or a few weeks.

Everybody in the (extended) family will never get it. Some people are just freaking rude and miserable. The really important ones get it and help out immensely. The reality of cross-contamination is huge - does not make for a low stress or low anxiety event. It is what it is.


I think the whole Unlimited thing can mean different things for different people. For some folks it might being able to eat whatever they want at a family gathering and not limiting the types of foods they eat. For others it might be more figuring out a strategy that involves being able consume a little of anything you really want and skipping some things or substituting other foods for the bulk of your meal in order to experience the event in a less stressful and comfortable way so that your diabetes isn’t making you feel crappy. I think there’s a balance to be hit—there are times when I say screw it and eat what I want and just do my best, but I have to be very judicious otherwise those start to creep into too much of my life and my control really suffers. Through experimentation, I’ve realized I’m often ok with just having small tastes of lots of things (and entirely skipping some others) and sticking otherwise to easier options (veggies, nuts, cheese, meats, esp for snacks). Lots of times my pleasure at having a little taste/very small piece of something seems about equivalent to having a much larger portion, as long as I’m not left hungry. I’ve heard it said that your first bite and your last bite of something are by far the best, and it’s way less important to pleasure how many middle bites you have, and I completely buy that. I’ve worked with my family so that there are always options I can eat more of more easily, and then I can figure out balances that work better for me. But it’s a trial and error process that takes a while to get better at and that you never perfect.


I imagine most of us who are diagnosed T1/LADA as adults struggle with this situation. “Recreational dining” was one of the highlights of our trips abroad to visit our daughter. Cooking and baking with my mom for the holidays was so much fun growing up and I really loved trying new dishes and bread-baking in the pre-D days. Learning to honor those memories and accept the challenges I face is an ongoing process…and it will be for you, too.

That said, at holidays I still try to enjoy small portions of my favorite foods and also include foods my GF husband can eat. I also find it much easier to cope with food treats now that I am on the pump: the extended bolus is my friend! And I am fortunate that family and friends are supportive. So I guess what I am recommending is to build new traditions and associations that embody those feelings of love and connection you already share. :maple_leaf:


A lot of people view eating a low-carb diet as extremely restrictive. In comparison to dealing with allergies or celiac where cross-contamination is a factor, though, finding low-carb foods to eat is easy and pretty non-restrictive, in my opinion.

I’m so thankful that my immediate and extended family (and some close friends who also live with life-threatening food allergies) are so understanding. For Thanksgiving dinner my aunt and I messaged back and forth for several days talking about the menu and how to make things safe for me. She used clean equipment for everything, read me the ingredients on all food she was using, made all my food before beginning to prepare the rest of the meal, cooked my food wrapped in foil to protect it from any food residue that might be in the oven, put the cooked meal in the fridge covered and with a sign saying DO NOT TOUCH, and then washed her hands well and warmed my food up covered in the microwave just as everyone else was dishing out their plates. I brought my own dessert and sugar-free drinks, which I also offered to anyone else who wanted them. I wasn’t eating the same food as everyone else (I couldn’t eat most of that), but it was still delicious and a wonderful experience visiting with family and friends.


Absolutely! My sister and I both have it (her medical conditions match mine exactly, except for LADA, thankfully), and my other sister has had life long allergies, so my mom was already used to taking precautions and just had to adjust to some new ones.

This. Now between 3 other siblings and me having various issues with food, it’s become incredibly stressful for my mom just to manage all the allergies/intolerances, so lately I’ve just told her not to worry about making low carb options when I visit - having gluten/dairy free food is more important.

Thank you so much for the replying. I’ve had a better day today, and so I’ve been thinking on things and trying to decide the best way to come at trialing different foods so I can make just about anything work. It’ll be a lengthy testing process (with many failures, I’m sure), which is incredibly discouraging while it’s going on, but it will be worth it in the end.

LOL! Thanks for that. I’ve definitely had similar thoughts when trying certain things. :smile:

I’m so sorry y’all have experienced this. I’ve fortunately had a slightly different experience - well-meaning friends and family trying, but just messing up so badly. Parents/siblings get it, because they’ve lived with it when my sister was still at home, but I’ve found anyone who hasn’t lived with/isn’t currently living with someone with CD just can’t get it. I never even let the well-meaning folks try anymore, because it’s just not worth it to me, and I don’t want them feeling badly if (or more likely when) I get sick from their food.

That’s part of the frustration I need to just learn to live with - I hate that there’s not a straightforward, do x and get y results.

I will have to give this some (or a lot of) thought. Food has been such an integral part of our lives, it feels huge to change that.

That is so sweet of your aunt to go to all of that trouble! I do agree cross contamination is much more difficult than low carb (even when your allergies/intolerances make low carb more difficult). I have thought since my LADA diagnosis that it is much more difficult than celiac disease, but for me, that’s primarily because I mainly eat food I cook, so my day to day life isn’t really as affected by it, whereas I’m thinking about my BG almost all day. But when it comes to eating elsewhere, yes, avoiding CC is harder than just going with low carb options.


This is such a nice and wonderful thing to do. I am strangely touched.


Thanks for sharing your experiences and strategies. I have celiac and T1 and what comes to mind in reading all your posts is how much I hate random potlucks, and how safe I feel with certain gatherings of friends or of family who get it and care. Makes me realize how lucky I am.


I struggle with potlucks (partially with the “what to bring”). Our church has a fellowship meal once a month, and I haven’t even managed to eat what the other celiac mom in our church brings because of the logistics of everything to avoid CC. I just bring my own food, take a decent portion for myself, then put the rest out for others (which means of course no leftovers come home with me even if anything is leftover). Last minute food events (or ones I’m not aware of until last minute, like some of the fellowship meals that snuck up on me) stress me out to no end.

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