HELP, with diabetic diet.
July 19, 2011 7:44 PM   Subscribe

I need clever ideas to help someone with diabetes make better food choices. This person is supposed to be on a low carb diet. Catches: Obviously i can not force them to eat any certain thing. or deprive of food.
posted by misformiche to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Does this person eat at home alot, or mostly out? At home, the easiest thing is to not bring any carb foods into the house. Shopping with the person can help because you can reinforce that they not buy carb foods. Another trick when shopping is making a list and sticking to it.
posted by cabingirl at 7:52 PM on July 19, 2011

yes mostly at home. they do not do the shopping. and refused to eat good prepared meals. then eat quick things that are high in cholesterol.

unfortunately i am extremely limited in what i can and can not say.
posted by misformiche at 7:56 PM on July 19, 2011

If this person is eating at home and not shopping for themselves then it should be pretty easy to force them to eat better. Here are some low carb foods that you can stock the kitchen with that don't require much preparation effort:

- Tuna or salmon packets
- Low sodium deli meat
- Rotisserie chicken
- Baby carrots
- Full fat cottage cheese or unflavored greek yogurt
- Pre-cut frozen veggies (e.g. broccoli and cauliflower, cut green beans)

These foods can be combined and turned into meals either just by opening a tin or at most microwaving. I wouldn't call them the healthiest menu in the world but if we're talking about a diabetic with poor control of their blood glucose levels, the most important thing is getting them to reduce their intake of carbs.
posted by telegraph at 8:01 PM on July 19, 2011 you want to fight the cholesterol fight, or the blood sugar fight? No blood sugar control will kill them faster than the cholesterol. The easiest way to get someone to go low carb is to fill them with steak and bacon and eggs (all high cholesterol) - prove to them that they can eat really yummy stuff even if they can't have bread. Then, when they get sick of steak (and yes, it WILL happen), start offering chicken, and fish, etc.

Or, what telegraph said. Also, nuts for a snack instead of chips.
posted by cabingirl at 8:05 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

it sounds A LOT easier than it is.
getting them to eat even one bite of vegetables is a fight.
i have a plethora of recipes, guides, lists and knowledge about what GOOD foods are.
I am not lacking in this knowledge. Ive got carb amounts and serving sizes memorized.
the trick is getting them to eat the GOOD food.

the only thought that i have had that we have not tried yet (and will be trying, soon, tomorrow) is portioning out servings and leaving only appropriate amounts of food in reach.

but then sometimes they refuse to eat anything that is available because they dont like it for this reason or that. letting their BSL levels drop low on purpose.
this is obviously not good for their body.

im thinking more clever ways of making the foods that are low carb more appeal is more of what im asking i guess... or making the affects of poor choices more apparent.
posted by misformiche at 8:27 PM on July 19, 2011

Is this person a child or mentally ill? Is he or she taking insulin?

If the answers to the two questions above are no, then it is much better health-wise to let him or her have their little tantrum hunger strike for a few hours than for him or her to eat something that spikes blood sugar.

What makes low carb food appealing the way that high carb food is? Well, uh, nothing really. Carbs are addictive. They taste amazing. Salt and fat can make low carb food taste nearly as good (e.g. steak with sauce, bacon, roasted veggies) but the tradeoff there isn't exactly clear cut, as cabingirl described.
posted by telegraph at 8:34 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are there healthy things the person likes? Could you stock up on those/learn new ways to cook appropriate foods. Maybe if you tell us what they like people could suggest recipes or tips.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:44 PM on July 19, 2011

Unfortunately I think you're leaving out some important information. How old this person is, your relationship to her (him?), type 1 or type 2, etc. Ideas for a step-child are going to be different than ideas for a cantankerous grandparent, which will be different from a spouse, etc.

When you wrote unfortunately i am extremely limited in what i can and can not say, did you mean you can't share very much information with us, or that for some reason you can't say very much to this diabetic person?

Are you in a position to talk to this person's doctor about the potential effects of what telegraph called the "little tantrum hunger strikes"? If you get an OK from, for example, this kid's pediatrician then I'd say yeah. Go for it. Let him (her?) be hungry and ill for a little bit. But I sort of don't want to say that because I don't know what the consequences would really be.

Sounds like an ugly situation. Are you getting the support you need? If you're solely responsible for this person's well-being, or even just the dietary component of his or her well-being...well, that bites and I'm sorry. Do you have a support group, in-person or online? Maybe people in situations similar to yours would have practical suggestions.

Good luck.
posted by Neofelis at 8:58 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

did you mean you can't share very much information with us

I am a friend of the poster. This is what she means. Think of her in a caretaker sort of role, coming up against adult autonomy.
posted by fake at 9:05 PM on July 19, 2011

Ouch, that's rough. I suspect the single servings of acceptable foods will work (if unacceptable foods are indeed kept inaccessible), but it might take some time. Unfortunately I doubt anything about this will be easy and I wish misformiche the best luck.
posted by Neofelis at 9:19 PM on July 19, 2011

thanks fake.

carbs = addiction.

i need a convincing argument FOR the non-addictive foods.
posted by misformiche at 9:20 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

also.. asking if hunger strikes.. are an option is a good idea. thank you. i did not think of that.
posted by misformiche at 9:21 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Remember that foods like bacon and fatty meats are fair game. Vegetables are not really necessary as long as you're getting vitamins from organ meats occasionally. Dietary cholesterol is really the tiniest of risk factors (if even at all) for all but a small minority of people.

And don't forget low-carb ice cream. If you have trouble finding it, make your own. It's a fantastic dessert that, depending on how it's made, isn't unhealthy at all.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:27 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

i am a caregiver. which is why i can not give out specifics. and can only use generalizations. which i know makes the question harder.

really my question could be... "how do i get someone to eat foods that are good for them when i cant force them and they are surrounded by food options that are terrible and addicting?"

"Remember that foods like bacon and fatty meats are fair game. Vegetables are not really necessary as long as you're getting vitamins from organ meats occasionally. Dietary cholesterol is really the tiniest of risk factors (if even at all) for all but a small minority of people."
thank you! that is easy to forget in times of frustration.
posted by misformiche at 9:33 PM on July 19, 2011

This is indeed a difficult situation. My experience is just like with any addition, convincing someone to make smarter choices is near impossible. It is something they have to come to on their own, if ever. My diabetic father believes that he can eat anything he wants, including candy all day long as long as he takes his insulin. Convincing him that insulin is ruining his body, causing cirrhosis of the liver, and a myriad of other side effects has proven fruitless. Many times, as a caretaker, you can only provide healthy choices as much as possible, and offer encouragement, but that is all you can do. And as frustrating as that is, each person must make their own choices. Even very young children can be taught how to take care of their diabetes.
posted by tamitang at 11:43 PM on July 19, 2011

I am in a similar position with my mother, who has diabetes, high cholesterol, has had a severe heartattack etc, AND has discovered her sweet tooth big time since being diagnosed. So far, everybody has been assuming she will manage her diabetes and make dietary (and other) adjustments. It hasn't happened, and gentle reminders tend to set off tirades of "my life is over, I'd rather die than live like this etc.". Disheartening.

Conflating my situation with the one you described, my thinking goes like this:

1. Make sure that you have all dietary information from a dietician: what exactly they are allowed to eat, and what combination thereof. As far as I know, you MUSTN'T cut out all carbs, rather they have to be strictly monitored. Also, it is important how to combine foods, which might also make for more interesting menus in the long term.

2. Try to seduce them into adhering to the diet. My mum is a very visual person, so what I have revolving through my head at the momet is some sort of fancy, DYI visual aid which she will be entertained when using. I haven't much progressed yet re. what this is gonna be, exactly. It'll have to be something which automatically indicates your available choices once you select one basic food item, both in terms of other foods, and in terms of weights, etc. The person you are caring for might be more receptive to other kinds of methods, maybe aural reminders, whatnot. The idea here is to make it somehow fun in a way they respond to to keep track and keep going.

3. Try to make sure/seduce them into keeping the other, non-dietary diabetes requirements. Exercise is the most important one here, I think.

4. The literature suggests that diabetics are at an increased risk of depression/anxiety/irritability etc, and if you start out with a fairly low mood/crancky person to begin with it can become very obstructive in their dealing with their own condition (and with other people). I don't know if your relatinship with this person pre-dates diabetes, but if there is a chance that they have become depressed/anxious/irritable etc, or more so since their diabetes kicked in, it might be worth while making an appointment with a professional, and see if that helps. In my mum's case, she did get anti-depressants, and this has changed her moods and attitudes a lot (just not quite enough yet, but I am hopeful).

5. There are some dedicated diabetes sites and forums out there, which I plan to research and take advantage of (and eventually contribute to with personal successes/failures). It might be a good idea to go there, and see what practically worked/didn't work for people in your situation.

6. I would be very cautious with "starving" them into submission, and make sure you are in constant contact with a professional, if this is one of the routes you chose to explore. On the one hand, there seems to be some research recently which suggests that keeping diabetics very close to subnutrition levels has had a huge positive impact, with some people even being diagnosed as non-diabetic at a relevant point post-study (unfortunately, again, I don't have the links on my current computer and will not have access to them for the next few days - a Google search might help). On the other, if not managed just so, it can have a big negative impact on the affected person. My personal anecdote concerns my grandmother, who was also diabetic. She had this strange thing where she never felt hungry or thirsty, and several times forgot to eat for almost a whole day. Every time she had to be rushed to hospital, her body was a shrieking mess, and in the long run, this kind of yo-yoing I firmly believe contributed to her untimely death.

7. My plan, if all else fails, is to resort to what really amounts to emotional blackmail. I don't know how close you are to this person, but maybe sitting them down and expalining the consequences of their actions for you and others around may be an option. Of course, ideally the affected person would try to stick with the necessary adjustments for their own sake, but, if this doesn't happen and there is even a slight chance that they will change their behaviour if confronted with this different view, I would go for it. With one caveat though: first, I would try to reframe the situation for them. My mum insists on the perspective where everything is about her life being restricted like she is some Atlas in chains. My view is that you give up stuff throughout life, and add new stuff into it - after all, we have all progressed from babyfood, nappies, neon clothing etc. Maybe the trick is to regard it as just one more progression, and add some new, exciting/peace-inducing stuff into it as you phase other things out. Just like any other growing experience.

I hope this helps. And good luck with your eneavours - this is an illness which takes it toll, psychologically, on everybody around the affected person.
posted by miorita at 2:28 AM on July 20, 2011

I have had great luck with a vegetable hater by finding out what specifically they dislike (mushy and/or non-homogenous textures) and finding something that is unlike that. For low-carb, carrots are generally out, as they're fairly high in sugar, so my new go-to vegetable is cauliflower.

I make steamed cauliflower, then melt butter over it and add salt and sometimes curry powder. It goes excellently with steak, too.

Bacon grease is also a way to really boost flavor, and you can maybe try replacing some favorite junk food items with almond meal/flour based versions.
posted by bookdragoness at 4:49 AM on July 20, 2011

By the way, Linda's Low-Carb Recipes are often suggested as a good resource.
posted by bookdragoness at 4:49 AM on July 20, 2011

Just one small idea - I just tried making zucchini "noodles" for the first time this week, and I was blown away by how much I liked them.

I took a zucchini and used a vegetable peeler (yesterday; a box grater today) to make noodle-like ribbons out of the zucchini. I then sauteed them up with some olive oil and garlic and tossed some parmesan and black pepper on top before eating. (I also had chickpeas in there, but they're totally not necessary.)

I have never much liked spaghetti squash prepared as "spaghetti"; I've never been a big zucchini fan. But boy oh boy did I love eating zucchini as if it were pasta. (To be clear - there was no actual pasta in my meal. Just olive oil, zucchini, chickpeas, garlic, pepper, and parmesan.)

I'm guessing the half a large zucchini I ate was roughly the equivalent of a 2 ounce serving of pasta. But the numbers are amazing:

zucchini: 113g, 19 calories, 3g carb
pasta: 2oz dry, 203 calories, 45g carb

It sounds like you've got a tough customer there, but I wonder if you might have some success with noodle-cut zucchini. I've also heard great things about eggplant as lasagne "noodles".

Also seconding Earl the Polliwog about the nutrients available in non-veggie foods - according to my diet software, eggs have a bunch of vitamins.

Also what bookdragoness says about cauliflower - I've seen several recipes for roasted cauliflower, where (I believe) it actually gets kind of crunchy and nutty - your person might find something like that palatable. (Heck, it's possible everything in this thread about roasted vegetables could work.)

I have to say, I used to be pretty anti-fat, which meant no butter or cheese on my vegetables. That was okay, for me, but seriously, some parmesan on asparagus or a bunch of butter on just about anything could make a real difference for your person.

I hope that helps a bit. You're in a tough spot. Good luck!
posted by kristi at 3:00 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh man. that sounds delicious. Ill have to try that myself.
crunchy cauliflower is sooooo good.
So far Ive had luck with some vegetables, oddly asparagus was a hit.
And potatoes tossed in a little olive oil with some seasonings and Parmesan.
a nice little factiod. Sweet potatoes actually have a lower glycemic index then regular potatoes.

couscous made a good sub for pasta for a little while.

and a really simple bread recipe from mister fake with some flax seed and chopped up nuts toast in has been a big hit.
The homemade bread is simplier and has less garbage in it and a lower carb count than commercial ones(no added sugar) and no honey (allergic)

weve just tried to cut out pasta for the most part as it becomes and obsession/addiction and spurs trouble. but "fake" zucchini pasta sounds like a good possibility.

The vegetarian in me doesnt want to do it but it does seem like starting with offering more meats and proteins and things that create a feeling of full with smaller visual amounts are the way to start.
It seems best for them. I have no qualms with encouraging meat consumption or anything. but I wince and the arguments about foods like McDonalds that will occur.
posted by misformiche at 7:54 PM on July 23, 2011

everyone loves its!
posted by misformiche at 10:27 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

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