Why You Should Choose to Cook for Your Diabetic Health


Ward Alper is a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than four years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health. In this article, Ward addresses several common reasons for choosing not to cook and explains why you should forget these excuses.

I get reactions from people I speak to who want to control their diabetes but claim to be afraid to cook, hate to cook or don't have time to cook. They rely on pre-cooked food or get by with the most boring of diets. I do not see that as a healthful approach to managing your diabetes.

We all know that there is no way to control what is in prepared foods, and I am not just talking carbohydrates but sodium and all kinds of other things that may not be good choices. Those who just prepare the most basic things like broiled meats and plain veggies are doomed to boredom. Other than emotional cues in our lives, boredom is one of the biggest triggers to throwing in the towel and ignoring our diets.

Addressing the Reasons Why You Don't Cook

  1. I don't know how to cook or I am a bad cook. Like any other skill, cooking takes practice and a little perseverance. You don't learn to play an instrument in one lesson (unless you are a prodigy). It takes practice. You need to start with a few easy pieces. In cooking, you have to start out with a few easy recipes. Start small with one recipe with just a few ingredients. Master that and go on to the next one. Carnegie Hall may not be in your future nor your own cooking show, but the satisfaction of mastering a new skill can be its own reward. Not to mention a better diet.
  2. I don't keep those ingredients in my kitchen; when would I ever use them? Start small. If you have white vinegar in the cupboard, go out and buy a small bottle of apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar. Only have yellow mustard? Get some Dijon mustard. Only have salt and pepper? Get some Herbs de Provence. Each is a little step. Put it all together and you have a new symphony of flavors at your disposal. Grilled steak becomes Steak au Provence with no real effort on your part. All it takes is a little adventure. Once you start you will surprise yourself.
  3. Who has time to cook? I know, you have two full-time jobs, 17 children and a sick cat. So many recipes can be done in steps. For example: I am making a Moroccan sponge cake for tomorrow night. I have already toasted the almonds. While I am waiting for them to cool, I am writing this article. When they are cooled, I will add some spices and a little flour and put it in an air-tight container until tomorrow. Two steps are done, not to mention another task. Another tip is to make a seasoning mixture you like and use it many things. (See balsamic marinade recipe below.)
  4. What if my family and I don't like it? If you don't like what you've prepared, open up a can of tuna and vow never to make that dish again. Next time try something else. Just keep opening windows in your cooking and your life. Some things are going to be yummy, I promise.
  5. Who has all that equipment? You don't need a chef's collection of pots and pans to cook. You do need a saucepan, a frying pan, a kettle and your oven. You will find that a whisk and a couple of good knives will make life easier. Once you start with the very basics, you can move on to more things if and when you want. Once you start you might discover you like to do this cooking thing. Move on to more equipment like a mixer or a food processor. Just do it on your own time and at your own pace.
  6. I can burn water! Well, before I say that you can't, I will say that I have known people to keep a pot of water on the stove too long and have burned the pan. Luckily, the water evaporated into the air and was saved. Come on, you can do it.
  7. Who wants to wash all those dishes? Who wants to prick your fingers six times a day? Who wants to worry about their health all the time? Who wants to eat a diet that is not good for you? And who doesn't want to be healthier?

Forget Your Excuses and Make Your Life Better

In life you've got to do what you've got to do. I was so afraid of driving that I didn't learn how to until I was in my 40s. My excuses were that I lived in New York City or I lived in Boston. I was afraid that I did not have foot-and-eye coordination, etc. When I moved to Maine, I had no choice but to learn how to drive. I still don’t love driving. I challenge myself to do it when I am most afraid, like driving in Boston. Every day I forget how much I hated the idea of driving and how afraid I was to drive. My life is easier for that skill. And like cooking for those who are afraid, it will make your life better.

Click here for Ward's Balsamic Marinade recipe!

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