What to feed a diabetic?
November 20, 2008 9:56 AM   Subscribe

What to feed a Type 1 diabetic soon after giving birth?

My neighbor is about to give birth to her second child. She also has Type I diabetes. My husband and I would like to deliver some food after the baby comes, but I would like her to be able to eat it. What types of meals are safe/acceptable?
posted by I_drew_an_angelfish to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The same stuff she ate before and while she was pregnant. Diabetics rigidly limiting their diets went out of style in the 80s with the advent of portable blood testing devices. Diabetics today generally eat whatever they want (within reason) and adjust their insulin appropriately.

The same sort of healthy easy to heat and eat food that will only take 5 minutes to prepare that you would deliver to any new mom should be fine for a diabetic mom too. The main thing to be careful of really is hidden sugars(like in sauces) that she won't know is there and won't be able to account for when taking insulin to cover the meal.
posted by COD at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2008

COD hit the nail on the head. Speaking as a diabetic I can eat what ever I want as long as I adjust accordingly. That being said I do tend to shy away from super sugary foods. But trying to limit all sugar is pointless, everything you put into your body (except water) eventually turns into sugar.
posted by wavering at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2008

To be clear, diabetics don't generally eat everything they want, because long term swings in blood sugar numbers can be very deleterious. These include eye, kidney and nerve problems as well as an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. To be on the safe side, I would stick with protein and veggies, and avoid carbs. Here is a site with some great casseroles, which are great for freezing and reheating easily when you are juggling new babies.
It's nice of you to be mindful of your neighbor's dietary restrictions, I am sure they appreciate it.
posted by msali at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2008

I'm not entirely sure what kind of crazy, futuristic diabetes treatments COD and wavering are speaking of, but DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES make 'just any old food -- but watch the sugars!' for your Type-1 neighbor. AND DO NOT make any of those casseroles. Those recipes are ridiculous for a Type-1, with or without an insulin pump. They're all chock full of potatoes and dough and mixed together in a way that no diabetic can take into account and calculate how many units of insulin they need to cover for the carbs they're eating. In my house, we'd accept them with a smile and throw them away the minute we closed the door.

Cooking for insulin-dependent Type-1 diabetics is about counting carbs. So if you wanted to make food for a diabetic, you'd have to make sure that you knew EXACTLY how many carbs was going into their serving. First rule -- keep it simple. Stick to just one or two carbs so you don't get confused. Cook the diabetic's serving separately. Or eliminate all carbs and let them add in as they would like. For instance: baked chicken with potatoes and onions, salad with a simple balsamic/olive oil dressing (no added sugar of any kind in the dressing, please!). Or barbeque some flank steak (stick to a dry rub, salt, pepper, herbs, and don't use a store-bought rub unless you verify that it doesn't have any carbs in it, or maybe saute cherry tomato/olive oil/basil/garlic and serve it on the side ), bell peppers and zucchini on the grill, serve some french bread on the side. In both of those cases, the food is isolated, the diabetic can keep their carbs separate from everything else and calculate exactly how much they're going to eat of something and give insulin accordingly, and if they don't want the carbs, they don't have to eat the carbs.

I think it's wonderful that you want to cook for your neighbor and her family, really sweet. If she's on her second child (and both pregnancies were good and the babies are healthy) then she's probably pretty solid on the food thing and she and her family probably want to do their own thing and stick to their routine with food. Every family with diabetes is different, but I'm just speaking from my own experiences.

If you really wanted to be a total rock star -- prepare meats and veggies that are ready to cook and set aside all the carbs in separate containers. Make lots and lots of chilli (without the beans). Make a vat of tomato sauce for pasta -- let them prepare the pasta how they'd like (in my house, we weigh my wife's pasta before cooking it separately from everyone else's).

Fun fact: immediately after giving birth, the mother often won't need any insulin at all for 24 hours.
posted by incessant at 12:16 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Incessant, most, if not all of the casseroles that I linked to have one to two carbs. They are mostly protein and fat points. To be clear: it's not that diabetics CANNOT have carbs, they just can't have too many. Carbs = sugar. Carbs are bad for diabetics.
Like Incessant said, though, best to just cook without carbs at all to be on the safe side. Again, it's very nice that you are doing this for your neighbor.
posted by msali at 3:26 PM on November 20, 2008

The fastest way to piss off a diabetic is to tell them what they can and can't eat. And this happens all the time no matter how long your friends and relatives have been dealing with you and your disease. If I want cake, i eat cake, but I also know what it does to my body and how I have to compensate. Carbs are not bad, the key to being a diabetic is knowing what is in your food. Carbs are a great source of energy, and with someone who will probably be putting her body through some rigorous times, a carb free diet would probably equal a passed out mother. But I digress.

The best thing you can do? Instead of guessing, ask her husband what her favorite meals are and act accordingly, every diabetic's diet and tastes are different.
posted by wavering at 4:08 PM on November 20, 2008

Type I myself here. Wavering is correct that all of us are different, with different degrees of strictness and different weak points. I couldn't possibly make it on a regimen incessant describes--I was cursed with a sweet tooth and have to indulge/take insulin for my mental sanity. Asking probably is the way to go.
posted by stevis23 at 4:59 PM on November 20, 2008

What everyone above says, even though they disagree! My middle-aged partner has been a Type 1 diabetic since childhood, and he's been through every trend and fad in diabetic diets and treatment. If anyone tells him what to eat or how to eat, yes, he does get annoyed. He really does know better than anyone else about what his body can handle and how to take his insulin.

In his case, he does count carbs and takes a certain number of units of insulin based on the carb count. The ratio is something he worked out with his endocrinologist, and they review it regularly.

For your neighbor, I think you best bet is to tell her you'd like to bring her some food and ask her if that's o.k. and what she'd like to eat. She'll know best what she, as an individual, needs for her particular circumstances. You and I and the rest of us can only guess.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:50 PM on November 20, 2008

Yes, what Robert Angelo said. I do not have diabetes but people brought food to me after the births of my children and there were things I did not want and would not eat. Think serious food aversions. I know it's not common, but it does happen and sometimes those aversions take months to go away after the birth of the child.

Tell the mom you'd love to cook for her and ask her what she wants/can have. She'll love you for it.
posted by cooker girl at 8:03 AM on November 21, 2008

« Older I can haz oral historiez cat? Lolstudz   |   Please shut up the noise in my head Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.