Diabetes Food Police


This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper. It originally appeared on his website, The Decadent Diabetic, and was republished on Information About Diabetes with permission.

I want to tell you that I resigned from the Food Police many years ago. It was right after I realized that what I was suggesting to my sister about what she was eating hurt her feelings far more than helping her manage her Diabetes.
Still it is sometimes difficult for me to keep my trap shut.

I was recently eavesdropping in a restaurant. The gentleman at the table told his companions that he has Diabetes and had to be careful of what he ate. He ordered a lovely fish dish that was served with a large side of rice. Clearly he relished his dinner. He was a full-fledged member of the clean plate club. Of course, as you would expect from me, I ordered a dish and asked the server to replace the high carbohydrate rice with some fresh vegetables. I too relished my dinner. At home, I would have made “riced” cauliflower, in a restaurant that is asking too much of the kitchen. Leaving off a sauce is one thing, creating a totally new dish on the spot is something entirely different. Some chefs will do it if they can but it is a lot to ask unless you have been a long-time patron.

It got to coffee and desert time. The gentleman looked forlornly at the menu. One of his companions suggested he order rice pudding and ask for extra cinnamon.

“It has lots of cinnamon on it and I heard cinnamon helps with sugar control.”

I was ready to jump out of my chair, pull a stethoscope out of the air, pretend I was a doctor, and beat her about the head and ears with it.

There is antidotal evidence that cinnamon may help you control your blood sugar. But what is absolutely NOT true is that putting cinnamon on a sugar laden dish will counter act the effects of that sugar. It may be wishful thinking but probably also dangerous. That is not to say you can’t have the dish, with the extra cinnamon, but that you need to treat it for what it really is….sugar and carbohydrate laden. If it works for you to do that every now and then….go ahead and ENJOY…if you PROMISE not to beat yourself up afterward.

I was good. I stayed in my chair and stayed quiet. I am not his doctor or anybody’s doctor. It is up to him and to all of us to manage our Diabetes in a way that works for each of us.

Did I mention it was a Greek restaurant? Greek restaurants make simply the BEST rice puddings. I have no idea why Greek chefs have such a way with this dish. I empathized with him immediately. I love rice pudding. Fortunately I now make a similar dish using spaghetti squash so I no longer have to give up that flavor or texture.

The internet can be wonderful. Many of my friends do a lot of traveling. They love to take pictures of what they are eating and post them online. I have a few thoughts on that. 1- Thanks for sharing the interesting dish. 2- I am so jealous, especially if that dish is not something that is part of my management plan. 3- It really is so nice of you to let your food get cold or melt, just to share the experience with us. Since I have been writing and sharing recipes with you, I have eaten a lot of cold dinners in order for you to see what the finished recipe looks like. Some pictures turn out better than others.

One of my friends has been posting pictures from restaurant dinners he has had. The pictures included beautiful mouth watering high carbohydrate plates of pasta, desserts and my old favorite breakfast item, the chocolate croissant. Sure I was jealous to see these foods. What I did not know is that this friend is a type 2 Diabetic. I thought, as a friend, I should say something. Then I thought again as friend I should say nothing. He is doing well in managing his Diabetes. Who am I to pull out my food police badge and try to arrest his food eating? Perhaps I should just wag my wooden spoon in his face?

All of us have people in our lives that simply don’t understand our disease and how we have to live with it. People that will say things like have some more potato, I know you can’t have desert.

I want to admit to you that when I am in a restaurant and the server is working overtime to convince me that I should have a desert, I do pull the Diabetic card. I get a perverse pleasure in stopping them cold in their tracks and them looking away like they accidently mentioned the food I spilled down the front of my shirt. My bad but it is so much easier than trying to persuade them I don’t want what I don’t want.

We are all going to do what we are going to do from time to time. Do it. Enjoy it. Move on and figure out what works best in the long run for you. You won’t get arrested, not by the food police anyway.
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic