Having Your Cake and Being Slammed for Eating It

We are a crazy, schizophrenic, confused culture. We talk out of both sides of our mouths, and need a simultaneous translator into nonsense while we do it.

We criticize fat people we see in the mall, but the food court is packed with choices of fried, sugar-loaded, and crispy-salty calories.

A cronut is croissant dough, fried like a donut, filled with sweet, flavored cream, and iced.

A cronut is croissant dough, fried like a donut, filled with sweet, flavored cream, and iced.

Gluten-free diets are touted, restaurants highlight menu items; the same restaurant will have nothing safe for a diabetic to eat. Point it out, and the waiter may well say, “Gluten free is much healthier, you should try that.”

The news stories decry the horrors of our sugary, fat-laden diet, and the infotainment section segues into an article about the popularity of the cronut.

I’m really surprised at how many restaurants have one or two menu items that are safe for diabetics, in a menu that runs six pages. Salad dressings contain honey, maple syrup or simple syrups, or, “just a touch of sugar.” When I asked how much a “touch” was, it turned out to be two tablespoons in a cup of vinaigrette. Yep, vinaigrette. That’s about 26 grams of carbs in the salad dressing–roughly your whole carb intake for a meal. yes, I know, I’m not drinking a cup of it all at once. It’s still way too much sugar for a salad dressing.

Tomato sauces are loaded with sugar, and almost every meal comes with a carb-heavy side–rice, polenta, pasta, potatoes, bread. It’s possible to make a diabetic-safe dessert, but you’ll never find it in a restaurant. And yet, 25.8 million adults in America are diabetic and 79 million more are pre-diabetic.

We love our frozen margaritas, nachos, pasta and pies. But realistically speaking, with almost 2 million new diabetics being diagnosed each year, we need to start offering sensible food choices to at least provide an alternative to pancakes for breakfast, french fries with lunch and pizza for dinner.

–Quinn McDonald no longer eats food with added sugar or more than 25 grams of carbs per meal. She’s surprised how hard it is to eat a healthy, low-carb meal while traveling. KentCooks stocks a diabetic friendly fridge in their house.

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15 responses to “Having Your Cake and Being Slammed for Eating It

  1. I have a food additive/asthma problem and have to be fairly careful when buying any pre-packaged groceries. I tend to be less careful when eating out than when I cook at home. A rare addition to my diet doesn’t seem to do too much harm. I guess it all has a cumulative effect.

  2. I do like the occasional sweet treat, and although we do not have cronuts here and as I don’t like donuts I’d be saying no, no, NO! How could anyone Do that to a croissant?
    It’s just too damn sad when a liking for real food means you can’t eat out without an overdose of sugar and additives. I consider myself so very fortunate to be able to buy my vegetables direct from a grower on the way home from work and have little need for anything processed. And it’s sad enough that many need to be educated that to be healthy you need to eat healthy, have your chosen treat, but remember that’s what it is . . . not daily fare. But when it’s such a mission to actually do that . . . it’s not surprising that many give up the struggle.
    Kia kaha Quinn, Stand strong!

    • I like donuts now that I can’t eat them. But I always loved croissants. My mom was French, and she knew how to do the whole vol-au-vent dough. YUM! We seldom eat anything processed, we are lucky to have a Farmer’s Market and a sort-of organic store withing walking distance. Tonight we are eating cole slaw, my husband’s recipe, and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat home-made coleslaw. I like the sound of Kia kaha. I love it!

  3. AMEN! That is why I don’t eat at restaurants except the one safe one I Know about. It is a Chinese stir-fry restaurant that stir fries the raw food that you choose from a long counter featuring raw meat and raw vegies.. As few carbs as you want. It is called Big Wok and it is close to home (El Segundo CA). We need more like that!! Otherwise I seldom eat out. It is just too difficult for me as a diabetic to just be able to drink a cup of coffee because that is the only thing on the menu I can eat. Sigh!

  4. I hear ‘ya! My complaint is that many restaurants no longer have packets of cane sugar. They have every kind of artificial sweetener known to mankind, but ask for something simple like SUGAR and I get zilch.

    Granted I realize that my prob is not at all on a par with what diabetics and vegans go through, but I’m allergic to/can’t digest artificial sweeteners so for me there is a problem.

    • I’m with you, Ally. I can’t use artificial sweeteners. I have ummm, digestive distress from sugar alcohols, and I (personally) don’t think they are safe. I also think they make you dependent on sugar. I know restaurants have to offer substitutes because people demand it, but they should also offer the real thing.

  5. I don’t think our culture is any more confused than anything else of similar complexity. I think we just don’t understand culture, partly because it’s difficult to perceive everything that’s going on.

    It may be the case that culture could be well understood through a reductionist approach, just like nobody understood fire until molecules and their interactions were explained (that phlogiston thing didn’t really work out). That would suggest that there might be fairly reliable “group behaviors” (or something along those lines) that nobody currently knows much about.

    If too many humans are crowded to closely together without sufficient sanitation there are well known consequences to individuals. It was quite a breakthrough when people started to realize that (I think in London in the 1600s), and an equally big breakthrough when they began to *stop* attributing effects to spurious causes like “night air” or “evil spirits”. It’s possible there are similar but more subtle things going on today, shown by quite a number of widely repeated individual outcomes.

    It’s a tough problem, partly because at this level of complexity it can be addressed on a purely individual level. But still, there seems to be something going on that’s not individual at all.

    • I hope so. Something else needs to happen. Doctors don’t know what to do with diabetics either. Dieticians give you wildly different advice–sure you can eat rice, no you can’t eat rice. It’s about a whole day’s consumption, it’s a meal-by-meal balance. The real problem, in my experience, is that some diets, like the no gluten, are accepted because they are based on popular fads, and others, like diabetic diets, are the fault of the person who has the disease, and therefore need to be shamed. It’s not helpful.

      • From the reading I’ve done it’s fairly clear that “dietitians” are just guessing or repeating pseudoscience (and who can’t even decide how to spell their field!), and nobody seems to understand what diabetes is beyond the symptoms.

  6. As vegans who are willing to compromise to vegetarian but with IBS when in a restaurant there will often be only 1-2 entrees available and for instance if you order the spinach salad and ask for no bacon usually it’ll come with loaded with it anyway. So I feel your frustration. The way around is to not eat out except in vegetarian restaurants, which would probably be very good for the diabetic too. When car traveling thru non-enlightened places we bring non-perishable food and shop at a grocery then use the hotel room micro. Not only do we then get a healthier meal, we save money. We also try to find Middle Eastern and you’d be surprised where they show up but have given up on most Thai or Chinese places, many are too Americanized. Being on a trip is fun but stressful so it’s important to feel good. If going just or the day, we bring a picnic lunch and find a pretty place to eat. Then I can draw afterward.

    • Yep, I do the grocery-store-microwave thing when I travel. It’s easier and healthier. My problem comes with business travel–the actual travel days. Airlines don’t feed you, so I have to carry my own food, which is often confiscated by the TSA. Because I have to eat regularly, it’s a real trick. And the trouble with vegetarian or Middle Eastern food is they are heavy on potatoes, rice, and grains that are refined, like pilaf. They are cheap for the restaurant and fill most people up, but not on my diet.

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