Diabetic Cooking Even Non-Diabetics Will Love
July 11th 2006 - the day my world was turned upside down and my 11 year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
At the time, I had very little knowledge about diabetes: knowledge I never thought I'd need. This autoimmune disease has no cure and the cause is uncertain. Some studies indicate genetics and others the environment. Since her diagnosis over 6 years ago, my life has been changed forever, not to mention the changes that Mackenzie has endured.
Diagnosed - What Now?
The madness started 24 hours after Mackenzie was diagnosed with diabetes. My husband and I were run through a crash course on diabetes, a series of how to give insulin injections and how to calculate dosage. Then we were sent home with a box of syringes, insulin, testing strips, lancets, and supplies that we were expected to administer ourselves. It’s a bit like cramming for a nursing degree and practicing on a real human - a human, no less, that just happens to be my child.
The feeling was overwhelming. I was constantly second guessing myself and often panicking over a low or high blood sugar reading. It requires attention and accuracy. As a big picture thinker, these two traits weren't my best attributes.
Cooking for a Diabetic Child
Without going into all the details of how to manage diabetes, I will say it's basically a balancing act of blood sugars with no definitive rules and a guessing game based on science and intuition. My approach, of course, was to manage it as best I could with a low carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are converted into sugar in the body and sugars turn toxic in a diabetic’s blood stream. Insulin can balance the sugars out, but the less we have to worry about balancing sugars, the better off she’ll be.
Is a Slice of Cake Worth an Insulin Shot?
Try telling your adolescent child she can’t eat pizza, cake, or candy. As you can imagine, her reception of this news was less than favorable. My next approach was moderation.
"Okay, Mackenzie.." I would say, "you can have one piece of pizza and cake at the party as long as you give yourself an injection before you eat."
Therein lies another problem. What kid wants to prick their finger then jab themselves with a needle every time they have something yummy? It’s like they are being punished for enjoying cake!
Great Meals Without the Carb Load
My next - and most effective approach - was to cook such great food that the lack of carbohydrates would barley be noticed. I learned to adapt my cooking style to use lower carbohydrates and more vitamin rich vegetables and proteins.
In fact, this type of cooking is not only good for a diabetic, it's the way we should all eat if we want to live a long healthy life!
Think about the way most Americans eat today. Carbs are center plate, protein second, and vegetables almost nonexistent. A perfect example was a recent visit to Olive Garden, where I watched as the table next to us was seated and immediately delivered a basket of bread. Then a giant bowl the size of my head overflowing with pasta and meat sauce arrived as well as a basket of mozzarella sticks coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. A teeny-tiny little side salad was also delivered which of course sat untouched. Lastly, a cheesecake dripping with sweet, sticky cherry sauce with enough sugar in it to fuel a car. Talk about a hit on your health!
The Diabetic Cooking Style - Healthy and Tasty for Us All!
On the other hand, diabetic cooking style places more emphasis on the vegetables as center plate, protein as secondary, and carbohydrates falling in last - it can also be really, REALLY good! Cooking and eating, using lower carbs can be just as delicious and satisfying as the overflowing bowl of pasta. It just requires some effort and re-learning. Rather than relying on carbs to make their meals appealing, diabetic cooks use whole fresh ingredients that taste great on their own merit and spend time balancing flavors with spices and herbs.
I have to brag that I have perfected the art of this manner of cooking. My recipes are so delicious you would hardly know they are actually - gasp! - good for you!
3 Diabetic Recipes Even Non-Diabetics Will Love!
Here are some low carb, family recipes that have graced my table for years. Regardless if you are diabetic or not, the recipes are delicious and good for you.