July 18, 2008

New eatery features diabetes-friendly fare

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Medical Center East’s new Vanderbilt Bistro helps people with diabetes take the guesswork out of eating healthy. (photo by Neil Brake)

New eatery features diabetes-friendly fare

Vanderbilt Bistro on Eight, the Medical Center's newest dining option, is now open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the eighth floor of Medical Center East, outside the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic.

Although the Bistro promises food that is fresh, tasty and healthy, its most important focus is on food that is quantifiable. Each of its items, from sandwiches and salads to coffee and muffins, is clearly labeled with nutrition information, which is an important factor for diabetes patients.

“The clinic helps with all aspects of diabetes management, and an important aspect is food,” said Tom Elasy, M.D., medical director of the Eskind Diabetes Clinic. “Correct nutrition information is nice for everyone but critical for people with diabetes.”

The bistro was part of the Eskind family's original vision for a comprehensive diabetes clinic. A space was reserved adjacent the clinic to provide diabetes-friendly food and to give customers the opportunity to learn more about food choices.

Many individuals with diabetes must be attentive to their diet because they need to monitor their carbohydrate intake to know how much insulin to inject to process the carbohydrates.

“If they can't tell, they guess, and when they guess, bad things happen,” Elasy said.

The Bistro aims to take the guesswork out of eating but also provide food that is satisfying.

“Food is pleasurable and social. We can't tell people not to eat, but we can give people the tools they need to eat well. The Bistro allows people to make better decisions,” Elasy said.

The Bistro's satisfying options even include brownies and éclairs.

“The reality is that dessert is a part of life, taken in reasonable moderation of course. Nothing is off-limits,” Elasy said.

Though the Bistro caters specifically to individuals with diabetes, Elasy insists that everyone will enjoy eating there.

It offers smaller portion sizes, reasonable prices and the assurance that comes from knowing exactly what is going into the body.

“The response has been phenomenal. Staff are eating there, and patients have loved it too,” Elasy said.

The Bistro has been open since July 2, but Retail Manager Sue Yost said the menu is still a work in progress.

“We're listening to customers and asking what they want. Everyone has loved the location,” she said.