Diabetic Portion Size and Anger


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.

Portion control is a very important part of a diabetic-compatible diet. Eating enough to satisfy you is just as important.

Years ago, I ran the Diet Gourmet Shoppe on the Eastside in Manhattan. We served a low-calorie and low-fat “frozen treat” and frozen low-fat yogurt. We offered itty-bitty samples of the flavors to our customers. I cannot even begin to guess the number of times a customer requested a sample and wanted to know how many calories and how much fat was in the itty-bitty sample. Some of these customers never ordered the regular size of the treat and made do with the teaspoon sized sample with the unknown calorie count. Some did not finish the sample. I always wondered just how satisfied they were with what they had.

Deceptively 'Diabetes-Friendly' Food

Even after you have trained yourself to read labels, it is still sometimes very difficult to figure out just how close to the suggested serving size really winds up on your plate. This is not just carbohydrates but also calories, fat, sodium and just about every other bit of information on the label. A perfect example for sodium content is on the little cans of sauerkraut. The label reads 110 grams of sodium. Not too bad until you see the serving size of 1 tablespoon. Boy is that ever satisfying.

I get really red-in-the-face angry with recipes that claim to be good (suitable) for people with diabetes but contain many ingredients that are actually very high in carbohydrates and may be really poor choices for a diabetic diet. The way they justify the claim of low-carb is by the “suggested” portion size. It is true; if you make anything small enough, it won’t have very many carbohydrates, calories or sodium.

The other day I saw yet another “diabetic-friendly” recipe online. The recipe contained maple syrup, graham crackers, banana and a host of other high-carbohydrate ingredients. What could possibly make that “diabetic friendly?” The answer is the portion size. This recipe was prepared in a 9-inch round baking pan and said it served 16 people. REALLY? 16? For what kind of person with what kind of appetite? Is anybody really satisfied with a half of a teaspoon of double chocolate fudge brownie? If my math is correct, the pan is about 28 ½ inches around. Hate to burst your bubble, but each slice would be 1 ¾ inches at the outer edge, tapering to a point in the middle. Sorry folks, that is what is usually referred to as a sliver.

I've gotta ask: How satisfying is that to anybody? And isn’t that just cheating the mind and the reader? If you do have that sliver, do you feel cheated by not having eaten more? Do you feel guilty? Do you just feel more discouraged about your portion size? Just how little do you have to eat to keep to a good diet plan? What about those of us who actually enjoy eating and have healthy appetites?

Satisfying Serving Sizes

One of my readers commented:

I'm just used to eating large "working man" lunches and dinners, mashed cauliflower, and bread so thin you see through it just isn't getting it done. I'm trying...

What I try to do is give you recipes with a real person’s portion size. I want to show you how to fill your plate with lower carbohydrate foods and still be satisfied with what is on your plate. Not just the amount in ounces but also the amount in taste and texture. The goal is to make what you can and should eat what you WANT to eat. What I've found in my life is that feeling satisfied helps me to keep on track and my A1C in the low 5.2-5.4 range.

I never want to feel angry or cheated when I get up from my table. Learning to take back my table has helped me to take back my life!

Below is one of my most popular recipes that is easy to make, and you can have a lot of on your plate.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, be Creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Zucchini and Fresh Tomato Saute recipe!

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