What Do You Really Want from your Diabetes Diet?


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.

All of us with diabetes want to stay healthy and ward off the ill effects of diabetes as long as we can. We all know that we have to eat better to manage the disease.

When I speak with others who have diabetes, most tell me that the hardest part for them is the diet. They have gotten used to checking their sugars, dealt with the expense of the testing supplies, and even gotten to the point that calculating their carbohydrates is second nature. Almost all tell me that the diet is the hardest part.

Many complain that they are always hungry. More feel deprived of what they “should” not eat, as in “I would kill for…” Some feel that they cannot go out to dinner and feel like everybody else at the table. Some want to entertain others at home, but fear that their dietary limitations would not be suitable for guests. The biggest complaint is that they think food is boring.

In the six years since my diagnosis, I have discovered that there are ways to easily overcome most if not all of those feelings. It all depends on what you really want and what you are willing to do to get there.

I Am Always Hungry

How many years have we been told that the best way to build our plates is by filling the largest portion with grains? As people with diabetes, we are told that, for us, that is NOT the best choice. So how do we fill that void?

Cole slaw, braised cabbage, wilted spinach, cauliflower and spaghetti squash go a long way in filling that empty space on the plate. Salad may be all air and water, but it too takes up a lot of room on the plate, not to mention a lot of chewing.

I Would Kill For…

Every time I do a posting about desserts, I get a huge response from my readers. I am the first person to say that being able to have desserts is important. Why, the first chapter of my book is DESSERTS.

Cakes, tarts, creams, even creamsicles can still be part of your diet. You just have to decide that YOU can make them yourself. With very few exceptions, the desserts I have shared here are a snap even for the most “cooking-challenged” reader. Most of them can be made, or at least started, a day ahead.

CHOCOLATE! Now that I have your attention, chocolate does not have to be a no-no (we ARE NOT talking Goobers and Raisinettes here). Dark chocolate is much lower in carbohydrates than milk chocolate. I have always preferred the dark to the milk. The same is true for dark cocoa powder. It is very low in carbohydrates, and it takes just a little to really chocolate up a recipe.

Eating Out

I have always found this difficult. It is difficult to sit in a restaurant and mentally eliminate most of the items on a menu. Restaurant menus tend to be carb-heavy because those foods are less expensive than proteins and vegetables.

That being said, there is no reason not to go out to dinner once in a while. You can always ask for double vegetables instead of a high-carbohydrate side. Salads work well if you are careful about the dressing.

Listen, restaurants are getting better at catering to the likes and needs of their customers. If you are going to a “burger joint,” bring your own lower-carbohydrate bread like the sandwich rounds made by Arnold, Pepperidge Farm and even Walmart. I do it all the time, and no one seems to care or even notice. Order what you think will be the most flavorful item on the menu and enjoy your evening.


I love to entertain. If you don’t make it an issue that what you have prepared is “special diabetic” food, your guests probably won’t notice. Those who are aware that you have diabetes will find your dinner creations just that, very creative.

Who Has Time to Make a Gourmet Meal?

Sometimes even I don’t have the time to create a spectacular meal from scratch. All I have time for is cooking up some chicken or making a simple piece of fish or maybe a steak. No problem. I have a few “magic” sauces that I can prepare in less than 5 minutes which add so much flavor to what could be seen as dull. So much for boring diabetic-compatible food!

Now that the big problem of what to eat has been solved, go out and live your life … healthfully, of course.

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

Click here for Ward's 'Magic' Sauces Recipes!

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