Party Like A Diabetic: Changing Nightlife in Nashville

WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Grenier

Editor’s Note: Find carb counts from the hottest local spots in Nashville at Party Like a Diabetic here.

Hard words to hear

“You’re going to have to take insulin shots for the rest of your life.”

My name is Caitlin Grenier and I have diabetes. For a long time, it was hard for me to even say those words out loud. I was diagnosed with LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) at a mere 26 years old and let’s just say, I did not take it well. I was heavy into my graduate thesis research on halibut parasitology (totally cool when you live in Alaska), while also working two jobs, and still trying to maintain somewhat of a social life when symptoms of fatigue, severe thirst, and weight loss occurred. Due to my overwhelming schedule while having always been a perfectly healthy person, I attributed everything to stress. I continued to roll with this self-diagnosis until I walked down my parents stairs and my vision went completely blurry. Wake up Caitlin, this isn’t just stress! Blood work results came in over the phone while I was desperately searching for a fruit smoothie after hours of research out in Homer, Alaska. This led quickly to an endocrinologist laughing at me when I asked how long I would have to take insulin for. You may be able to guess what came next. Yes — depression, more weight loss, and most of all anger, and fear. I had amazing support from friends and family, and while I knew they cared, they didn’t directly understand what I was going through. How could they?

Decisions to make

So I found myself having two choices: let diabetes control me or find a way to control it. I started reaching out to other diabetics, I went to seminars, I heard other’s stories, and then I gained the courage to share my own. This led to a new career path addressing diabetes prevention for the YMCA and becoming a certified health coach specializing in healthcare professionals and diabetics through Vanderbilt. But I still had a thirst to do more. Being an extrovert, foodie, dancer, lover of wine and social butterfly, I was tired of guessing how much insulin I had to take to enjoy all the parts of life I wanted to indulge in. What could I do to make this new normal easier? Over a beer with my sister, we spouted ideas off each other until the phrase “Party Like A Diabetic” rolled off our tongues. This is it. This is the avenue for me to make a difference, not just for myself, but for everyone that has ever had to say out loud: “I have diabetes”.

Party with us

Nashville is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Once you experience the energy, vibrancy, live music, sports teams, amazing food and drinking culture, it is easy to see why. I like to say that if you are bored in Nashville, it is your own fault. For locals and visitors alike, the main “problem” is choosing what to do, but when you have diabetes, that is just the tip of the iceberg. We already have so much to think about simply by leaving the house. With so many new restaurants, craft cocktail bars, breweries, coffee shops, and bakeries opening left and right, people with diabetes don’t want to miss out. However, it can be difficult balancing the blood sugar rollercoaster while guessing how many carbs are in these new and exciting dishes.

This is where Party Like A Diabetic (PLAD) comes in! We are diving in, head first and enthusiastically, to make dining and drinking out on the town as enjoyable as possible. By partnering with local food and beverage establishments, we are forming carb counts for menu items taking the guesswork out of it for people who have diabetes. Since our launch on November 3rd, 2018, we have partnered with over 25 of these establishments in Nashville, with more signing every week. The support that this energetic and booming city is giving to the diabetes community is very humbling. While not everyone has the disease, many understand the importance of diabetes management through family members, friends, and co-workers who fight this disease daily. The city of Nashville, and cities across the country are all affected by diabetes in some way, so each community needs to be involved.

Carb counting and community

Personally, if I don’t have at least some idea of the carbs in my meal, I am not going to take the chance. PLAD’s goal is to open up opportunities for diabetics as individuals and for local businesses as well. These partnerships are allowing perspective for what it is like to live with diabetes and the role carb management has in our disease. To further engage the community, PLAD is partnering with Middle Tennessee State University Food and Nutrition Science School to develop carbohydrate numbers. By doing this we are not only able to get a quicker turnaround on carb counts, but we are also giving the students meaningful, real world, applicable work to enhance their education.

PLAD has three missions:

  • Empower people with diabetes to enjoy their time out on the town by providing carb counts
  • Promote local businesses and community
  • Raise awareness and educate people on what it is like to not only live with diabetes but to thrive in spite of it

Carb counts are currently listed on our website and we are hard at work with app development to allow this important information to be accessible at the tip of your fingertips. In addition to Nashville, we have extended partnerships into Tucson, Anchorage, and Kona. We won’t stop there! Our long term vision is to spread to every major city in the United States. If you would like your community to get involved with our movement, drop us a line!

Email or follow us @partylikeadiabetic!

Caitlin Grenier

Caitlin Grenier is the founder and visionary behind Party Like A Diabetic. In 2013, she was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). She has lived in Alaska, Hawaii and now calls Nashville home.