My boyfriend is the type of person who turns into a complete lunatic if his blood sugar drops too low. If we're at the restaurant, he's been known to pick a fight with the host if there's a wait, or take it out on me, and he gets positively apoplectic if we can't decide where to eat and he's hungry. I feel like dining out is always a race against the clock. Is there any way to make this process less stressful for both of us?
—Eats Every Three Hours
Dear Eats Every Three Hours,
Nobody likes it when the next meal is too long in coming. But in some people, low blood sugar seems to trigger an almost werewolflike transformation. Dana Wootton, a food blogger and teacher, describes what happens to her usually delightful husband: "He starts to go really pale and gets dark circles under his eyes, and he gets zoned out and seems like he's mad about something."
Rest assured, these low-blood-sugar types probably aren't faking it. Heredity plays a part in creating this condition, and poor diet, like eating fast-burning carbs, will exacerbate it, says Joel H. Levitt, founder of the Anxiety & Hypoglycemia Relief Institute.
Obviously, heading off blood sugar crashes is easy to do when you're at home. Eating out is another matter. Always keep a granola bar or other snack in your bag, or in the glove box of your car, for when situations arise. If you're in a restaurant and you've already committed to dining there, a breadbasket may not be forthcoming. Distraction is the best strategy, whether you're distracting the other person or just yourself. "[It's best] if I can keep talking," says Wootton. "Tell a long story. If we're with the kids, I'll take them and go to the bathroom just to get away from him."
And, of course, the best solution is to prevent the problem from developing in the first place by means of strategic planning. Call a restaurant and order takeout, then pick it up. Waiting for delivery can take up to an hour or more. (The food you pick up will be fresher, too.)
If you opt for a sit-down meal, you should select your destination in advance. Even if you didn't plan ahead, you can still do this: Reservation sites like OpenTable will easily show you which places have openings available, even last minute. At all costs, avoid the death spiral of endless wandering from place to place, accompanied by conversations that go something like: "Where do you want to go?" "Where do you want to go?" "What about this place?" "I dunno ..." Even if you aren't hypoglycemic, you will want to kill somebody by the end of the evening.