How Good Can It Get with Diabetes?

Ricotta Cake with Poached Peaches by Renee Suen on flickr.jpg

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.

From December of 2008 to June of 2009, my eating world and my life seemed pretty bleak. It did not matter that I had lost some weight. It did not matter that my numbers were no longer in the “diabetic” range. It did not even seem to matter that friends kept telling me how good I looked.

My medication, metformin, made me sick to my stomach. Still, somehow, I was hungry and unsatisfied ALL the time. I pushed away from the table in tears too many times. Having the small portions of the things I loved the most was worse than none of it at all. If I could not have a big bowl of pasta, I cried at the small portion. I ate dishes that I found boring too many times. I was so overwhelmed by the restrictions, I forgot the possibilities.

So how did I get to this wonderful state that I am in? I worked at it. To my surprise it got easier and easier. Discovering a few bread types that I could have without blowing my carb budget helped me to forge on. The same is true for orange juice.

But it is not JUST finding the substitutes that made it easier; it is the way I learned to look at foods. Remembering that there are tons of things that I like and can eat changed my mind set.

Pot Roast, Chicken Pot Pie and 'Pasta' Are Still on the Menu

I love pot roast. I can still have pot roast with no change to my favorite recipe. I just need to change up the side dish. Rather than potatoes, I use mashed cauliflower. Rather than peas, I use snap peas. The terrific thing is that I discovered that I really like cauliflower. Before my diagnosis I liked it and used it but as an afterthought. Today it is high on my list of good things to make. As for snap peas, well if I even used them they were more like a decoration on the plate. Sure they are a tasty decoration, but I never thought about them as a full side dish.

I love chicken pot pie too. No problem! Just no peas, more string beans, a little turnip, and carrot, and a crust made with some of the flour replaced with Parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti squash was one of my great challenges and greater victories. When I first tried it, I did not much like it. Whose fault was that? Mine! I was expecting squash to taste like spaghetti. It does not. It is still a neutral flavor but has that sorta veggie taste and feel. I did not have to force myself to love it in the same way I love pasta. I had to learn to cook it in ways that made it taste great. As the base for a chicken and mushroom casserole it is, as they say, the bomb! With tomato sauce it is the pits. Give it a little garlic, a touch of onion and some Parmesan cheese and what could be bad?

Desserts Aren't Off-Limits Either

In baking, just using a sugar substitute was not enough. The carbohydrate count was as much in the flour as in the sugar. I started replacing some of the flour with toasted ground nuts. So, okay, my cakes don’t rise as high as before and don’t brown as much. But as soon as you try one of the cake recipes, you will know for yourself just how good it gets. I use fruits more for desserts and Greek-style yogurt.

Chocolate was even in the picture. Seventy-percent dark chocolate is just fine in small not just itty-bitty portions. Dark cocoa powder is very low in carbohydrates. I make my favorite double chocolate crème using dark cocoa just as I always have. Just the sugar has changed. The taste and textures are the same.

How good can it get? It can get terrific. I eat as well as I did before my diagnosis. It is a little different than before but no less deliciously decadent. It is much healthier for not just my diabetes but also my cholesterol. It is back to normal, and my blood pressure is that of a 20-year-old athlete. The sad thing is that I don’t look like a 20-year-old athlete. Maybe that should be my next mission. Is anything REALLY possible?

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Poached Peaches with Raspberry Sauce recipe!

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

Photo credit: Renee Suen / flickr