Doing Battle with your Diabetic Diet


This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper for his blog. It was republished on with permission.

I am engaged in a war to convince you that eating what is diabetic-compatible can be delicious, easy and fun. This article is NOT about a ham and cheese sandwich on rye, but about how to look at the foods you love to eat and make them work for you.

How to Enjoy Your Favorite Sandwiches

My favorite sandwich of all time is ham and cheese on rye with mustard and mayo. As a diabetic, the rye bread may not be a great choice. It is a better choice than white bread. But for my lunch, it is over my carb budget. So what is a diabetic to do?

Make the sandwich on Lavash (flat bread) and turn it into a roll-up, try Sara Lee “Delightful” wheat bread or even rye Arnold sandwich thins. No, it is NOT the same. It is good, and if you can let go of “Oh, poor me. I can’t have...” it is just as satisfying. It is still ham and cheese, after all.

You can also put it on low-carb (Joseph’s) pita bread. It is still ham and cheese. But you can make it even better. Why not spread the top of the pita with mustard and/or mayo, layer the meat and cheese, and pop it into the oven (my first choice) or microwave until the cheese melts. Then either eat it like a pizza or fold it over and eat it like a sloppy grilled cheese sandwich. Get crazy. Top the sandwich with a slice of fresh tomato and a bit of lettuce. This is great. You get the benefits of a grilled cheese but with the cool crisp crunch of lettuce and tomato. It is not a fake ham and cheese sandwich; it is just another way of looking at the same thing.

Change Things up to Lower the Carbs

If that is still too many carbs for your lunch budget, take the ham and cheese and make it into a crustless quiche. You can do this a day ahead and eat it at room temperature or reheat it. Have a little wedge salad on the side, and you may have discovered the best lunch you've ever had. If real men do not eat quiche, real diabetics should eat crustless quiche! Who needs that soggy bottom anyway?

Pick a sandwich, pick anything you don’t think you can have, and challenge yourself to make it over as good – scratch that – better than the original.

Years ago, when my concern was cholesterol, I took my old meatloaf recipe and replaced the beef with lean ground turkey. The result was different; the result was better than the original. As a bonus, this turkey-loaf mixture makes great meatballs to add to a hearty soup. It is still lower in fat, but not lower in taste, and still is no more carbohydrates than the beef. I would say it is a win-win replacement.

Do you crave lasagna? The noodles are the carbohydrate culprit here. Why not consider for a moment replacing the high-carbohydrate noodles with lower-carb eggplant. It works very well. You get a lot more flavor with the eggplant than you do with a neutral noodle. If you oil and lightly season the eggplant and roast it in a hot (425+ F) oven, it intensifies the flavor even more.

How about taking on the challenge yourself? Remake the things you love in a diabetic-compatible way. Don’t feel creative? Challenge me then. Let me know what foods you miss, and I will work at making them work for your diet – and mine!

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Parisian Tuna Salad recipe!

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