Planning for Office Potlucks with T1D

Today is my office’s 10th annual holiday potluck! I’m looking forward to sampling a wide variety of dishes prepared by my coworkers. I know that it’ll be a carb heavy feast, though, so I’m going to have to do a little planning in order to prevent my blood sugar from spiraling out of control.

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I feel like I consume the amount of carbs that this gingerbread house contains on office potluck days (okay sort of exaggerating but that’s how it FEELS).

Honestly, my strategy for office potlucks is a little similar to what I do on other food-centric holidays: test often, extend boluses as needed, consume everything in moderation, and so forth. But there’s a few additional things I like to take into account when it comes to potlucks:

  1. Request labels for the food. I want to know precisely what’s in front of me. No, I don’t expect or want someone to write down every single ingredient they used to prepare a dish, but I do think it’s not too much to ask for the name of the dish. Labels are everything!
  2. Ask the cook if more explanation is needed. Case in point: At our last potluck, I tried noodle kugel without knowing what was in it. I mean, it’s obvious that NOODLES are a main ingredient, but pasta aside, I had no clue that sugar, cinnamon, and raisins were also used to make it. Needless to say, my blood sugar was sky high after sampling this (delicious) carb bomb, and I think I could’ve mitigated the situation if I’d only spoken up.
  3. Find someone to share the sweet stuff with (or save it for later). Chances are, I can find a coworker who’d gladly split a cookie with me so we save ourselves from the calories and carbs in a whole one. But if I truly can’t resist having a big piece of cake to myself, then there’s no problem in saving it for later – I never know when my next low blood sugar will strike!
  4. Load up on low carb options. Typically, I take as much as I want of the veggies, salads, cheeses, and meats that people contribute to the potluck spread. I know that if I fill up on lower carb items first, then I won’t overdo it as much on the heavier pastas, breads, and cakes.
  5. Be upfront with coworkers. My colleagues are very understanding when it comes to my diabetes, which is awesome in certain situations – like a potluck! But every now and then, I encounter someone who just doesn’t get my diabetes (even if I’ve tried to explain it to them). They’ll insist upon me eating whatever they’re offering to me, and take it personally if I turn them down. So I’ve decided that the best way to cope with this is to be totally honest with my coworkers and tell them why I can’t or don’t want to have what they are offering. So if Edgar* is begging me to try a slice of the chocolate torte he slaved over, I’ll straight-up tell him my reasons for skipping it (whether it’s due to high BG or simply being too full!). There’s a reason it’s said that honesty is the best policy, and this certainly applies in an office setting.

Either way, I look forward to this potluck every year and I won’t let my diabetes prevent me from enjoying it. Here’s to an afternoon filled with food and festivities!

*Edgar isn’t a real coworker. I just made him up for the purpose of this post. But I bet his hypothetical chocolate torte is amazing.