Can Someone with Diabetes Really Eat That?


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.

Does eating with diabetes make you feel like you have been dumped by your lover?

Being told what I couldn't eat after my diagnosis of diabetes made me feel the same way I felt when I would go through a romantic break-up – not that that ever happened to me. It was a loss of something I loved, or thought I loved. A good thing to remember for both eating and love: “There are plenty of other fish in the sea.” Now, if you don’t like fish, well, chickens in the coop? Uh oh, now there is a problem with chickens.

Finding Substitutions that Work

So many people with and without diabetes are just amazed by what we can eat. For many people looking in on us, not much has changed. The prevailing thought is: “Oh, dear, you have diabetes; you will die if you even look at a spoon of sugar.” I am so tired of explaining that it is not just sugar but all carbohydrates that we need to watch and control. And looking, even eating a small amount, won’t kill us.

I eat like a king. As those of you who see me here at Information about Diabetes and Diabetes Support on a regular basis know, I do eat desserts, some breads and some carbohydrates. I simply make choices to use lower-carbohydrate products and alternatives to higher-carbohydrate foods – choices like using cauliflower and spaghetti squash in place of potatoes and pasta. But I only use them when they work.

Case in point is what I call cow poke pie. Many of you know this as shepherd’s pie. For me, if it is shepherd’s pie, it better have some sheep (lamb) in it. The recipe I do most often uses ground beef, hence "cow poke pie." I have made it using a cauliflower crust, which looks the same but tastes very different. Not bad, mind you, but different. As a chef and an eater, I am not ready to settle for "not bad." No purpose in eating on the rebound.

Enjoying Satisfying Low-Carb Food

There is a song titled “Loads of Lovely Love.” We are told: portion control and everything in moderation. For me, and many others, we want loads of lovely food. Not just food, but lovely food.

When I want a lot on my plate, I turn to foods like my skinny slaw and cauliflower salads. I get to eat a big portion of food that tastes amazing and doesn’t use up much of my carbohydrate budget.

When I want potatoes, I have potatoes – but I make them taste so good that the smaller portion alongside, say, my skinny slaw satisfies because I get the taste and texture of the potato and the volume of the slaw. Teamed up with my oven-baked fish, what I get is a totally satisfying and diabetic-compatible version of fish and chips. I don’t stint on the tartar sauce either; I just use sugar-free relish.

Marie Antoinette may or may not have said: “Let them eat cake.” I say, for those of us with diabetes: “Let us eat cake – diabetes-compatible cake.” And diabetes-compatible cake is no second-best. I reduce the carbohydrates by substituting ground nuts for some of the flour and by using a sugar substitute. The end result is real cake. It looks like cake, tastes like cake, and no one I have ever served it to ever did that qualifying thing of: “This is very good for a diabetic cake.”

Rather than being heartbroken about love or food, or love of food, keep remembering that there is a world of wonderful foods out there. We can eat most of them, and we can choose how much we want to eat of them, keeping in mind all the variables of our health.

Like the lover who spurned your affections, there are ways of eating that are better for you and which you will love even more.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Sausage Artichoke Soup recipe!

Get more cooking tips and recipe ideas from Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic, on his website.