Guidelines for Cooking for a Diabetic

bbstxJune 12, 2012

My BIL had surgery yesterday. We are going to see him today. He and DH are so close in age they are nearly like twins. I plan to be the main cook while we are there so that SIL can give him all her attention.

Here is where I need help. SIL is diabetic, but it is controlled by diet. She does not like to talk about it at all and is very self-effacing ("oh, don't worry about me. I'll get by." etc.) I want to provide her nutritious meals that will not upset her diabetes (DH will eat anything, literally. BIL I'm not sure of. His surgery was for oral cancer, so I'm guessing soups for him for a while.)

Can anyone steer me on how to cook for SIL? I know she doesn't eat sweets or pasta (although she may occasionally have a small portion of pasta once a week).

What kind of combination am I looking for? High fiber, high protein, low carb?

What about using agave nectar? I bought some for a recipe (used 1 tsp). Doesn't it have a high glycemic index? Does that make it appropriate to use when cooking for a diabetic?

I will have access to a Whole Foods, but not Trader Joe's.

As always, thanks for your help!

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You want LOW glycemic index foods, not high. What would you be adding sweetener to? I'd just as soon use a teaspoon of plain sugar in a salad dressing because the per-serving amount is so very low. Don't get too obsessive about it.

Good guidelines are low glycemic carbs, veggies and proteins. It's only common sense, really.

Here is a link that might be useful: Glycemic index

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Thanks, sushipup. I really appreciate the link. I'm lost as a goose. One would hope my SIL would give me some guidance, but that's not her style. She hates the fact that she is diabetic and simply refuses to discuss it, even when it would help someone who is trying to help her!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:49AM
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It's just normal food, eliminating the usual suspects. ;-) If she thinks that way, then your SIL has a better attitude than someone who stresses about it.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:04AM
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I agree, a little sugar is better than a lot of other things people put into stuff as a sweetener. The American Diabetic Association says agave is lower on the glycemic index scale but has the same calories and carbohydrates as sugar and so should be treated and used as you would sugar or corn syrup. If you are baking with it as a substitute for sugar you should reduce the amount to 1/3 and increase the liquid in the recipe by 1/4.

Whole grains, not white bread or refined stuff, and carbohydrates matter as much as sugar does for many diabetics. Dad's blood sugar would go up faster with a plate of pasta than with a bowl of apple crisp.

There is a low carb and diabetic pasta now called Dreamfields. High in fiber, low in carbs, it tastes like white pasta to me.

As sushipup mentioned, it's mostly all common sense stuff. Fresh produce, lean proteins, whole grains. Some on-line recipes have tags that denote whether they are diabetic friendly, I think Cooking Light and/or Eating Well do that.

Carbs and proteins must be balanced to keep blood sugar levels consistent but your SIL will know the amounts and combinations of foods that she needs and can choose to eat what she wishes if healthy choices are available.

What a great gift to cook so she can spend time and energy caring for her husband. Good wishes and good health to both of them.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Basically low carb diet. No or very little sugar. Here is a good list (chart) of best and worst foods for diabetics. Fresh veggies and fruit with fish, chicken breast and turkey are all good choices. Try to stay away from sugar and white flour and fried foods.

Here is a link that might be useful: webMD

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Also, red or yukon gold or sweet potatoes over white. Sweet have the same carbs as white, but the carbs are absorbed slower so it helps keep the sugar spikes down. Brown over white rice. For me, white rice, pasta, and potatoes are my spikes. I eat them, but try to limit them. I controlled mine by diet for about 18 months before I asked to be put on meds. I still eat what I want, when I want, but smaller portions if I know it's something that will spike mine. Each person has their own triggers. You can not go strictly by the book. I can eat ice cream, not sugar free, and not have much more of an increase than if I ate a big bowl of fruit, but much less of an increase than if I had rice or pasta. It's common sense and knowing what your system digests the best. You are giving a wonderful gift. Just cook as healthily as you always do, and you will do just fine. So many non-diabetics panic when they have to cook for us, but you don't need to. You already know how. And all these sugar substitues are not good for anyone. Of course naturally occuring sugars are better than cane/beet sugar, but a little isn't a big deal. If we sit down with a piece of cake piled high in icing, yes we'll have a problem, but it's OUR problem, and we don't have to eat it. The cake itself won't hurt us if we substitute it for another carb for that meal once in a while.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I had to do this when I was pregnant and had gestational diabetes. It's been a while but what I remember is that most of the veggies and almost all of the fruits I like were seen by my body as pure sugar, so I had to cut back on portions of those and balance it with more protein and greener "more hard core" veggies, beans. No salt until it's plate time, let each person put how much they want. Sea salt has a lot less sodium.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I spent most of my career in a diabetes research lab and was going to add a thought or two, but Tami just said it ALL. Slow absorbtion is the key, and the occasional overshoot isn't that critical anyway. My supervisor was actually type 1, childhood onset, takes insulin every day. Since we had ice available at all times, he would occasionally put a Coke on ice and drink some of it over several hours, a small sip at a time. His wife happened to be a terrific cake baker and served the family her wares. I doubt that he ate more than a bite. He often brought the leftovers to the lab and I often said I was saving his life, burp.

Your SIL can act similarly if she wishes. I think if you feel a need to manipulate your menu, that you put more focus on the BIL instead.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Y'all are the best! BIL is doing great, but as I suspected SIL is worn out from worry and lack of sleep. Thanks for the many resources, information, and suggestions. I hope I can get some cooking and freezing done while I'm here.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 9:46PM
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You are welcome. Continuing thoughts for both of them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:40PM
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