I am NOT a Nutritionist

But I know one.

A really good one, and she lives with diabetes herself. She knew just what to say five years ago to my newly diagnosed husband to get him to pay attention and realize that
  • food is not his enemy, but it can be
  • diabetes is not a curse
  • the entire eating population of America would benefit by following the guidelines she was about to lay out
  • it's all about choices, baby.
I don't like seeing "diabetic friendly" on recipes without some kind of caveat explaining the carb count and serving size. Nothing is diabetic friendly unless that information is there so the diner can make good choices.  I've seen "diabetic fudge" (!) that neglects to mention that the count is about 1/2 teaspoon for FIFTEEN carbs (really--I did the math). Give a box of that stuff to an undereducated diabetic, and YEOWZA!

Here are Seven Things WE Have Learned...
 and that are working for US.

Please go find your own diabetic nutritionist
and get your own personalized good advice!
  1. Eat moderate amounts regularly throughout the day, since the aim is to keep your metabolism and blood sugar steady. Aim to hit the carb limits your health pro gives you (which will be based on YOUR weight/health/activity). Your limits will be different, but C eats 45-60 g carbs per meal, and one 15 g mid-morning snack. You're not trying to eat less than that number, either. Think of your metabolism as a fireplace. Stoke it with reasonable amounts of firewood, regular as clockwork, and you'll get a steady warmth. If you go too long without feeding the flame, it dies back and is sluggish and cold (brain fogs, anybody?). If you stuff your whole Christmas tree in there, it flash burns out of control. Don't "save up" carbs during the day--it causes spikes and dips in blood sugar. Not only does this wig out your A1C, it can make you just plain feel bad. Slow and steady...you know the rest.
  2. The "diabetic diet" is really just a heart healthy diet with carb counts. Less fat and salt, more veggies and fruits is the ideal. With that in mind, I don't cook two meals. I make meals that the resident diabetic, two teens, and I all enjoy. ("Separate but equal" is soo last century, you know.)
  3. Holidays help. He gives himself two or three "holidays" a year. On these days, he treats himself to something he's dying for...half a slice of key lime pie when we were on our yearly mini-moon (mini honeymoon) in Key West, for example. Think of it as an occasional branch off the Christmas tree. The premise here is that no food should be completely forbidden. If you're focused only on what you can't eat, you're going to be pretty miserable. (Not to mention doomed to break down and gorge yourself at some point.)
  4. Excerise is imperative. The few times he's gotten "too busy" to exercise, his numbers (and his aches and pains) started creeping up.
  5. If you're going to have to make choices, make sure what you eat is actually what you want. Ask yourself if the "carb-to-joy ratio" is worth the next mouthful. Is it really the BEST brownie in the world, or is it merely the CLOSEST one? In our house, I make fresh (no-knead) bread daily. He limits himself to one slice, but he absolutely adores it hot from the oven. Since that's the way I serve it, he's satisfied with that one slice, and it helps him deal with all the green stuff I put on the rest of his plate. He makes it a point to find the best tasting good choices he can find, and he eats a reasonable portion of THAT, instead of a Christmas Tree worth of whatever is merely convenient.
  6. Carbs are carbs. There are no "magic carbs" that slip through your system without your liver and pancreas noticing. Agave still has 16 g carbs/T (one carb less than 1T honey, one+ carb more than 1T sugar). It may be lower glycemic and "slower burning," but it's still carbs, and all carbs count. The "net carbs" thing you sometimes see on recipes or products is for the Atkins diet or South Beach only, not for diabetics. Fiber is a good thing, but it is NOT a carb eraser.  Splenda instead of sugar is not a free pass, so you still can't eat as many of those sugar-free cookies as you want. (See Number 5, above. Why not savor just ONE mouthwateringly delicious regular cookie instead anyway?)
  7. Nothing is sure. You can be 100% compliant and yet your diabetes worsen steadily. Or you can throw caution to the wind and live a long (if painful) life. My mother-in-law lived into her 80s and pretty much did everything wrong. Her choices did cost her--she had neuropathies and infections and terrible pain and many, many health consequences--but she still kept a half-gallon of Kleinpeter chocolate ice cream in her freezer, along with a very cold spoon. We're doing what we know to be best practices, and hoping for the best.
We've had five years to get the whole family on board, bouncing from too strict to too lax. We now shoot for the middle. We aim for REALISTIC. Smaller portions, more veggies and fruit, an eye to balancing carbs and reducing salt and fat. We allow exceptions and room for real life, and try to keep both the diabetic AND the rest of the family humming happily along.

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