Choosing A “Diabetes” Cookbook | Advice For The Culinary Challenged Who Want Healthy Recipes

Just as there isn’t a diabetic diet, there aren’t diabetic recipes. Which begs the question, how do you go about choosing a cookbook if you have diabetes and Julia Child isn’t in your future?

By Nora Saul
M.S, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.
Manager of Nutritional Education at the Joslin Diabetes Center

Patients ask me all the time, “Can you recommend a good cookbook?” and I smile at their incredulous looks when I give them some of my suggestions.

I have to say that I personally like the cookbooks that Joslin publishes because they were all reviewed by Joslin educators.

But quite a few of the cookbooks I endorse don’t have the word diabetes in the title nor does it appear anywhere in the book.  Just as there isn’t a diabetic diet, there aren’t diabetic recipes.  So, how do you go about choosing a cookbook if you have diabetes and Julia Child isn’t in your future?

One caveat before we begin: I can’t provide a formula for choosing a cookbook with infallibly good tasting recipes—the kind where all the recipes produce sighs of gustatory delight from your dinner guests—because the only way to know if the recipes work is to try them, or get a tip from a friend who has already tried them.

Let’s face it – it could have the most nutritious recipes in the world (high in fiber, low in sodium and saturated fat with 40% of the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals); but if the recipes taste like burnt shoe leather, then the circular file might be the new home for that volume.

What I can do is give you some guidelines for finding an easy-to-use cookbook that has recipes that meet the definition of heart healthy.

Choosing recipes that are good for your heart is important for people who have diabetes because heart disease is two to four times as likely in the population with diabetes.  So here we go:

  1. Ingredients should be listed in the order you will use them with amounts in everyday measures. Any exotic ingredients should be well described and places of purchase suggested.
  2. Procedures should be clearly spelled out with each step following logically from the one before it.  If the procedure contains a step that is known only to the culinarily inclined, it should be described in detail.
  3. Preparation and cooking time should be listed
  4. Entrée recipes should provide suggestions for accompaniments.
  5. Nutrient information should include at least calories, protein, fat, saturated fat carbohydrate, fiber and sodium. Potassium content would also be helpful.
  6. The table below contains suggested guidelines for maximum levels of pertinent nutrients of concern to people with diabetes.

Calories *
Saturated Fat **
Sodium***
Entrée per serving 500 5 600
Side dish per serving 250 3 250
Desserts per serving 300 3 300
Sauces/dressings & per tablespoons 100 1 140

Please note:

* Calories are based on a 2000 calorie diet- as found on the Nutrition Facts Label.

**Saturated fat: based on less than or equal to 10% of calories consistent with the Joslin Clinical Guidelines for persons with type 2 diabetes and the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations.

***Sodium: based on the 2,300 mg per day goal consistent with the Joslin Clinical Guidelines for persons with type 2 diabetes.

As far as carbohydrate is concerned,  if you have a meal plan you should follow the carbohydrate content of that plan when considering the carbohydrate content of the total meal. As a general guideline, women with type 2 diabetes should aim for between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and men between 60 and 75 grams.

For more information:

Image copyright: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adamthelibrarian/

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4 Responses to Choosing A “Diabetes” Cookbook | Advice For The Culinary Challenged Who Want Healthy Recipes

  1. ” 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and men between 60 and 75 grams” Is that even if your glucometer tells you that that spikes your blood sugar? Isn’t the hallmark of success at treating diabetes keeping blood glucose low?

  2. Lou G says:

    Can you explain all this in laymen’s terms. I don’t have a decoder ring. I am not a “Joslin educator”, just a Type II Diabetic who is looking for answers. Example – If I have a 8oz Ribeye steak, what is the Saturated Fat of my Entrée?

  3. Aslam says:

    I use http://www.howcooking.com to find recipes of my choice. It worked great for me.

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