Eating out and special occasions when a family member has diabetes

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Eating out and special occasions can be tricky when a family member has diabetes. Find out how to navigate these events to keep everyone healthy.

Key points

  • Most restaurants will supply nutritional information if you ask for it.
  • If your child's insulin regimen allows, rapid-acting insulin can be given when the meal is served, with the dose adjusted to the meal's carbohydrate amount.

For the first weeks after diagnosis, you may be nervous about taking your child out for dinner. But many restaurants will supply nutritional information about their dishes if you ask. You should not feel shy about explaining to waiters that someone in the family has diabetes and that you need to know if the meal will be delayed. If so, eating a breadstick or some crackers while you wait for the meal to arrive is a good idea. These foods should be included as carbohydrate choices or exchanges or as part of the meal’s carbohydrates.

If your child’s insulin regimen allows for flexibility, rapid-acting insulin offers a huge benefit when you eat out. Your child’s injection can be given when the meal is served, with the dose adjusted to the meal’s carbohydrate amount. Discuss your options with your diabetes team beforehand.

Friends who do not know much about diabetes may be worried about what to feed your child. It helps to take the lead. Invite friends over first so they can see that your child still eats a variety of foods, just as they used to. When eating at a friend’s house, ask what time they plan to serve dinner and provide some guidance.


For many people, a birthday is not complete without a cake. Children with diabetes can and should still be able to enjoy birthday cake. Your child’s blood glucose (sugar) level might be high that evening. Note the reason in your child’s logbook, and do not worry too much. If you are on an I:C regimen, you can give extra insulin to help cover the extra carbohydrates.

In some cases, children are so excited at birthday parties that most of their food stays on their plates, leading to an increased risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your child is attending a birthday party, the key is to ensure that you or the adult in charge knows that your child needs to eat something.


Hallowe’en is a special time of year for many children and parents. Children with diabetes should not lose out on the chance to dress up and parade around the neighbourhood in search of treats. The treats they receive can be worked into the meal plan or can be used as extra food for planned activities. You may even want to consider trading some of the lollipops, candy, and regular gum for chips, sugarless gum, or even a trip to the movies. Be creative!

Also, remember to plan for the extra activity they will get on Hallowe’en by giving extra food. Perhaps your child could have one small chocolate bar for each 20 to 30 minutes out on the streets.


Fasting, for religious occasions like Ramadan or Yom Kippur, is extremely risky for anyone who takes insulin. Generally, people with diabetes do not have to join in these rituals. Check with your religious advisor. In rare circumstances, fasting may be possible, but requires a detailed discussion and plan along with your diabetes team in order to ensure your child’s safely.

Last updated: October 17th 2016