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Eating Out (Breakfast Buffet)

This short practical module presents a common scenario to navigate when eating out.  It is infrequent but not impossible to find an item on the menu that has been explicitly provided for low carb, not to mention keto!  But often, you can find something that works. For this scenario, you are invited to join the club that no one volunteers for. Welcome to the Type 1 diabetes club! This module will attempt to demonstrate the mindset of someone with Type 1 diabetes. You have Type 1 diabetes for the purposes of this module.

In this scenario, we will take a buffet breakfast in a hotel setting. 

Many hotels provide a full service, but some will only provide a ‘continental’ breakfast. Continental breakfasts typically have fewer choices than conventional breakfasts and are more likely to have bread and fruit juices, and some have cured meats and cheeses in addition. The latter is suitable for people on a keto diet. 

Today we will see how to navigate the breakfast menu as someone with Type 1 diabetes. It’s not as difficult as you think.

Of course, before you enter the breakfast room, you will have checked your blood glucose and decided if you need to add a small bolus of 1-2 units of rapid-acting insulin to correct the dawn effect. You might also be using a pen to inject long-acting insulin or relying on a pump to control your bolus dose. 

You must remember to take your rapid-acting insulin with you to the breakfast room if you have a pen. Ensure you have attached a needle and have sufficient insulin in the pen. You are unlikely to need to take glucose tablets as there will be sufficient sugary choices to correct a hypo, but it is likely you will be carrying them by habit. 

We will check out all of the buffets in these pictures. They are typical of buffet breakfast options. 

Pictures 1 and 2. English Breakfast.

The food here is usually a safe bet for people on a keto diet.

On this server, some food might have higher amounts of carbohydrates. Sausages vary according to their carbohydrate content. There is no way of telling apart from asking the staff. Black pudding on the far right is moderately carby because of the potato used in its recipe. Hash browns, fried bread, and baked beans are not suitable. To complete your full English breakfast, the fried eggs, tomato, mushrooms, and scrambled egg on the far right of the picture are all okay. Tomatoes as relatively high in carbs but at 4g per 100g, not the worst. But carbs add up. 

Cold table of meats and cheeses.

This area is keto friendly. The tomatoes should be consumed with their 4g per 100g carb content in mind. The balsamic vinegar will contain carbs. At roughly 10g per 100ml, a small amount will be okay.

Fruit and Yogurt.

A tricky one. You will need to check if the fruit contains syrup or juice. Melon in the lower centre might have a light sugar glaze. Mangoes and pineapples on the right will contain a lot of carbohydrates and should be avoided.  Berry fruits in juice and grapefruit in its own juice will have modest carbohydrates if consumed in a small quantity. But fresh fruits are best and more reliable. Some chefs like to sweeten juices. It would have been ideal to have a fresh fruit option then, there would be little guesswork. The carafes of smoothies and fruit juice are off limits, as are the plastic containers of fruit yoghurts. The plain yoghurt on the left might be acceptable in small quantities, Greek or Greek-style yoghurt is usually the lowest in carbs. Coconut and almond milk is okay if unsweetened but check the label. Oatmilk is a no-no.


The cereals and fruit juices on this table are not at all part of the keto diet, avoid them. And also avoid the last table of bread and jams.