Having Diabetes Does Not Make Us Stupid!

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This article was written by Ward Alper, a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than five years ago, Ward has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health.

“86” is a restaurant term for being out of a menu item. You might hear a cook shout out, “Hey Blanche, 86 on the Bratwurst and rutabaga hash.”

This article is about some people thinking that people with diabetes are 86 on brains. It is the group that says, “Oh, you have diabetes, so you can’t have sugar.”

I admit that I did not know any better myself. When my brother was diagnosed, I asked him to dinner and felt that I was OK as long as I did not make him a dessert with sugar. I am embarrassed to say that the table was loaded with bread and potatoes. Hey, that is how we grew up eating. Who knew?

'Diabetic-Friendly' Recipes Should Be Low-Carb

Many months ago, I was asked if I would contribute recipes to a diabetes site. What the editor said to me was: “Keep it simple. Our readers are not likely to try new things.” My immediate response was, “What do you need me for?” My goal is to increase the choices those of us with diabetes have so that we do not get bored and are able to stick to the diet we can have. New things are EXACTLY what we need. Needless to say, I don’t write for that site. But maybe I should.

So when you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is 86 on high-carbohydrate foods. I have to wonder why some sites catering to diabetics feature “diabetic-friendly” recipes that are high in carbohydrate. I check out other diabetes sites and look at the recipes that they feature. Sometimes I want to scream at the editors for their choices. One site featured a pie recipe that had 40 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Sorry, but when I got my diagnosis (and the booklets that come with the diagnosis), the first thing, lesson 1, is to modify the number of grams of carbohydrate you eat to:

  • 45 grams for breakfast
  • 60 grams for lunch and supper
  • 15 grams for each of two snacks

Frankly, I found that recommendation to be way too many carbs for me. But here was this recipe claiming to be “diabetic-friendly” with 40 grams for just a dessert – not as a special treat for your birthday or Christmas, but a regular dessert. Now you may wonder why the site thought that this was “diabetic-friendly.” Me too! Here it comes ... The dessert was made with SUGAR-FREE pudding mix. The crust, however, was a store-bought crust, loaded with carbs.

When I asked about why they would include a recipe like that as diabetic-friendly, the editor responded, “Well, our readers don’t make their own crust.” Ah yes, all that blood sugar must rush to their brains, making them incapable of learning to make a pie crust or even looking online to find crusts with fewer carbs. In the spirit of fairness, some people, with or without diabetes, don’t like or want to bake. Pie crust scares them. But wouldn’t it have been a better choice to give out the recipe as a crustless pie than one using a pre-made crust that under no circumstances can be considered “diabetic-friendly”?

I think this is the reason I use “diabetic-compatible” in place of “diabetic–friendly.”

Another recipe on one of the sites was for a perfectly good meat recipe. The problem is that the serving suggestion was to have it over rice. One reader commented that rice was NOT “diabetic-friendly.” The response was, “We meant to suggest brown rice.” While brown rice may be a better nutritional choice, it is still a carb-heavy food. Not that you can’t have rice at all, but it is certainly one of the foods where portion control is needed.

I don’t think that you have to be a person with diabetes yourself to create recipes for people with diabetes. You do have to have some understanding of the basic needs of the diet restrictions. You wouldn’t make cookies with peanut oil if you were making them for a person with a peanut allergy and say, “It does not contain peanuts.”

As for being stupid, 86 that idea. As for being out of brains, with all the reading, calculations and measuring, who among us has not increased our brain function or at least our math scores?

Below is a recipe for a crust with “only” 9 net grams of carbs for each serving. It does not have to be prebaked, and it is ... as easy as pie! But the reason I like it so much is that it tastes great. It does a lot more than just support the filling. It is so good tasting that I use the recipe to make cookies.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Sweet Pie Crust recipe!

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