Safe, simple recipes for diabetics.
December 20, 2011 1:36 AM   Subscribe

I need safe, simple recipes for a friend who has just discovered she is diabetic.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks. Everything. If you're a diabetic or you cook for one, please tell me how to make your simplest things, the easy successes, the go-to meals and snacks.

Please don't tell me about preprocessed specialty items. She needs recipes based on real food from a normal grocery store (in central Europe, by the way), not "Just buy a package of Diabetic Delight and add water!"

And there isn't time to spend three hours cooking a meal that takes five minutes to eat. She needs simple recipes for people with jobs and kids to take care of.

posted by pracowity to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've found that I like the sweetener stevia which is an extract from a plant. It's not a straight replacement for sugar and definitely has a bitter taste (which every manufacturer will swear they have some magic way to eliminate... none I've tried so far have done it) but I like it in lemonade, dark chocolate, and relish and other pickled stuff. And I put it in my oatmeal for breakfast.

It's available in grocery stores here in the States; dunno if it would be available where your friend is but it's easily gotten by mail otherwise.
posted by XMLicious at 1:59 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oatmeal & no-fat milk. 6 spoonfuls, add 2 cups of milk, microwave = healthy breakfast.
posted by prolific at 2:03 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Just as a note: lactose is a sugar, so there's sugar in milk. (However, I don't put milk in my oatmeal - simply because I make mine in a saucepan on the stove and I'm clumsy enough to scald the milk if I did it that way - and I've never tried to measure the effect of a glass of milk on my glucose level, so I don't know if it has any material effect.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:34 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: a friend who has just discovered she is diabetic.

Type 1 or Type 2? They are completely different conditions with different requirements.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:07 AM on December 20, 2011

Response by poster: Type 2.
posted by pracowity at 3:38 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: There's a recipe book that has been produced by an Australian scientific authority designed for 'healthy eating'. It specifically targets type 2 diabetes. It may or may not provide tasty recipes for central Europeans, but here's a link in case it helps: CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet
posted by skauskas at 3:50 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: Please don't tell me about preprocessed specialty items.

In the US, the Healthy Choice brand of microwavable food is a good choice for quick lunches.

Stuff I eat as a type 2:
1 boiled egg and toast
A slice of toast with peanut butter
I hate oatmeal, so avoid it like the plague. Your friend may differ.
Leftovers from previous dinners, say a slice of pork roast or chicken thigh

Tortilla, with various types of meat. Can be lunch meat from a deli or leftover chicken or pork
Sandwich (I look for bread that's around 15carbs a slice)

Get a crockpot. Through veggies and meat in it in the morning. Dinner is ready when you get home.
Stirfry. Throw some meat and veggies in pan, can be done in 10-20 minutes
Fish. Season and throw in the oven. Serve with a veggie.

Small apples, pineapple slice or two, oranges, banana, various nuts, crackers and cheese.

Mostly, it's about avoiding carbs or carb heavy foods. A lot of the above can add a carb (rice with stir fry, bread with soup) for the non diabetic in the family, so it's easy to cook for everyone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:23 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Diabetes UK has some recipes on their web page, along with a lot of other information about diabetes, obviously tailored to Brits and the NHS, but it should be helpful. They have some information in Polish, if your friend speaks Polish.

They also sell several recipe books in their online shop, many of which you can also get through Amazon.
posted by Helga-woo at 4:46 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: I'm not diabetic, but I have loved ones that are.

This diabetes meal plan has 3 meals a day + snacks planned out for either 1200, 1500, or 1800 calories a day. While I wouldn't follow the exact 28 day meal plan (it doesn't account for leftovers, so it assumes you want to cook 3x a day for a family of 4 or more), I think it gives a good overview of what a both what an appropriate meal would look like and what a whole day would look like.

I used recipes from that site when I was cooking for one, and would either bring leftovers in for lunch or freeze things in individual portions.
posted by amarynth at 5:15 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your friend is going to have to discover on her own how well she tolerates carbohydrate-intense meals. In the case of my husband, his dietitian recommended three or more servings of carbs per meal, but that makes his blood sugars spike so he has settled on about one carb serving per meal. While she is discovering her tolerance, though, I have a delicious but very simple recipe to recommend. These tuna (or salmon) muffins have no starches in them and are embarrassingly easy to make.
posted by DrGail at 6:22 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Try simple, real food and leave off the starches. Meat, fish, pork, eggs, cheese with a side of veggies.
posted by callmejay at 7:07 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: (Sorry about above mistakes... i am trying to post answer while at work)

I was diagnosed as "insulin resistant" in January of this year. I immediately went on a modified Atkins "induction" <2> Just kill sugar and avoid most carbs.
It works....

shirataki noodles
Damascus flax rollups
Saved my butt.
Noodles are zero carb
Roll-Ups 6 NET carbs I think.
posted by Studiogeek at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2011

Best answer: There are so many ways to go here, it's hard to know what advice to give, especially not knowing what your friend's doctor is advising her to do.

The concept of a "diabetic diet" has largely been dropped these days. Most people are able to maintain their blood sugar with basic, responsible eating, primarily using techniques known as a) carb counting, b) food swapping (3 x is worth 2 y, that sort of thing), and c) portion control. I'm primarily a (c) guy because I hate keeping track of everything I eat. More important than what you actually eat is how much you eat and how much weight you need to lose (as most Type 2s are overweight or obese).

When I was first diagnosed, my blood sugar was through the roof -- I was experiencing psychological effects and completely confused by my symptoms. At that point I really needed to eliminate sugars and cut way back on carbs like bread and potatoes (which convert to glucose when digested). Once I lost about 15 pounds, and started taking meds, my glucose stabilized and I was able to resume a less restrictive diet. I still try really hard to eat more fruits and vegetables and use the plate method to maintain portion control (the one thing I'm still bad at is having seconds and even thirds, alas).

In my family, we also bake a lot more with Splenda, although it isn't a perfect substitute for sugar and there's always a risk with any new recipe.

In short, my answer is: no short-cuts. Especially when feeding a family and yourself.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 PM on December 20, 2011

Response by poster: These all sound very helpful. If anyone else has favorite diabetic-friendly recipes, please add them.
posted by pracowity at 11:50 PM on December 20, 2011

Response by poster: By the way, what's the deal on starches and carbohydrates? For example, Diabetes UK (pdf from Helga-woo's links above) says "At each meal include starchy carbohydrate foods" but others (see above comments) say you should reduce or eliminate starches and carbohydrates (carb counting, etc.).

How do I map the accepted advice on carbohydrates to some simple daily recipes?
posted by pracowity at 12:43 AM on December 21, 2011

Best answer: IIRC it's that carbohydrates get converted to sugars by your body. They try to measure the effect of different foods on your sugar levels with measures like glycemic index and glycemic load, but it's apparently a complex matter and so the results vary. Here's a table of glycemic index and glycemic load values.

I get the impression that because of all of the variables involved the advice is usually to test your glucose level frequently after eating the kinds of foods you like and normally have access to, to get a feeling for how different foods effect your particular metabolism.
posted by XMLicious at 3:10 AM on December 21, 2011

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