Diabetic Nightlife

Can you drink nonalcoholic beer all night, stay away from the curly fries, and still have a good time?

Walt Raleigh picBy Walt Raleigh

Thanks for your patience as I've indulged my political side for the last couple of columns; this time around, we return to the personal: How, in a social setting and often with strangers, do you explain your dietary and "lifestyle" restrictions?

When I'm not writing for dLife, I'm a manager with a rapidly growing computer company. I work in the business development group, and wind up spending a fair amount of time wining and dining our current and potential customers.

New York City, where I live, is a wonderful restaurant town, and frankly, the bars ain't bad either. My company has a "work hard, play hard" culture, so we often find ourselves in some marathon eating and drinking sessions.

As a guy voted "most likely to do a kegstand" in college, you'd think this would be right up my alley.

But these days, I've slowed down quite a bit.

I'm a fat man with a skinny man inside him who is slowly trying to emerge -- and also someone who shouldn't be rocking and rolling all night and partying ev-e-ry day, given the havoc that heavy alcohol consumption can wreak on a diabetic's metabolism. Diabetes and alcohol are not a fun combination.

So I often find myself having to explain, to perfect strangers, why I'm not drinking like a college kid when the next round of shots makes its way down the bar, or gorging myself on the appetizers, be they fried mushrooms or foie gras.

I am "out" as a diabetic at work, and my co-workers and managers are fine with it. My close friends know about it too.

But often, I find myself in a situation where I'm out with relative strangers, and I get a quizzical look when I order a Kaliber (nonalcoholic beer) or club soda while everyone else is drinking hard liquor, or when I make a single glass of actual wine last through three courses at dinner.

The usual explanation (can't afford the calories, trying to lose weight) satisfies most people. I encourage people to drink up and enjoy themselves, as the last thing I want to be is some kind of party pooper.

Every now and then, though, someone tries to press a drink or some kind of calorie-laden foodstuff on me, and won't take "diet" as an excuse why not. ("Come on, live a little.") And in a business setting--as Frank Zappa once memorably observed, life is like high school with money--you want to fit in wherever possible, and you *definitely* don't want to stand out as unusual.

It is at that point that I must explain that, for health reasons (without going into more detail) I really can't, but thanks so much.

If what's being offered is liquor or beer, it is then essentially assumed that I'm an alcoholic, which is fine with me if it gets me off the hook, but may not be the best thing in terms of building a business relationship because of the stigma still attached to it.

If what's being offered is some kind of delicious foodstuff, it is assumed that I am some kind of self-denying ascetic and possibly Not A Fun Guy. See above.

Some of you have been at this diabetic business a lot longer than I have. Do you have better ideas for how to handle these situations? Please share them in the Forum!


dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 05, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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