Dinner Tonight: Shredded Cardboard, Packing Peanuts and a Salad? Not!

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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 remember the day back in 2008 when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My wonderful Doctor Dan was very kind as he handed me the diagnosis and some pamphlets with some information on diabetes.

He was right up front with me and said that he wanted me to meet with people more familiar with diabetes. When asked, he did indicate that I could have a very, very, very little bit of chocolate. (Have you seen my recipes for chocolate cakes and crèmes?) His office made an appointment for me with a diabetes clinic. I like to refer to it as the diabetic's house of horrors.

The Bad News

My experience at the clinic went something like this: "So you got yourself diabetes. Well, for the rest of your life, you will have to suffer eating a diet of shredded cardboard (how many net carbs are there in cardboard?), use packing peanuts and, for your birthday, a small salad, no dressing. Here is a cookbook with recipes to prepare those dishes."

OK, OK, I exaggerated a little. How many of you felt that was almost exactly what you were told? Did you feel that you never again would eat something delicious? For some of you, we can add insult to injury when the very thought of cooking seems worse to you than a double root canal.

When you are punched in the gut with the news that you have diabetes, it seems that your world becomes full of "you can'ts." When you hate to cook as well, your world seems full of "I won'ts." I am not including here the things you simply won't eat or have never even heard of as a food. Flambéed rutabaga puree, anyone?

Good News for a Change

I am here to remind you that you can! It is not all that painful to eat a delicious diet that is also diabetic-compatible.

Please remember that for all of the things you need to remove or really cut down on with a diabetic diet, there are still a gazillion things that you can eat a lot of and, more importantly, want to eat. Start with meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, even bacon. Oh dear, did I say bacon? Well yes, I did. I don't want to suggest that you eat pounds of it at a sitting (I personally would love to do that), but a person with diabetes does not necessarily need to eat less bacon than anyone else. It is your decision as a person who wants to maintain some degree of health whether you eat bacon or not. That goes for many (sorry, you do have to read labels) hot dogs as well.

There really are fun things out there that you can eat. About that hot dog, the bun is the bigger carbohydrate villain than the dog itself. May I suggest you try Joseph’s low-carbohydrate pita bread (4 grams per pita) to put the dog and the mustard and the relish and the sauerkraut in? The soft doughiness gives you the same sense as a high-carbohydrate bun. Great taste, not so much guilt.

Keeping It Simple

I do get it. You hate to cook, have no time to cook, don't want to cook, don't know how to cook. OK! Are you at least up for grilling, broiling, or pan-frying (I did not want scare you and say, "Saute") a steak, a burger, a pork chop, a piece of chicken, a bit of fish?

If you are willing to do that, maybe I can persuade you to bake these very simple cookies (recipe below). You and your kids will love them. They are not only low-carb but also gluten-free. I bet you won't even think about eating shredded cardboard once you give these a try.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Among Meringue Cookies recipe!

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