Lessons learned about diabetes and health part 2

Talking with a diabetes nurse recently, I was surprised when she said that coupled with diabetes and other chronic conditions are mental health issues. This may be because the disease is dramatic and requires dramatic lifestyle changes. Seeing a psychologist may be beneficial as the changes are taking place and to help continue the changes from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one.

Alcohol is always a hot topic in the medical field. The doctors say to avoid alcohol. My feelings are to avoid American beer, especially the tasteless mass produced yellow pilsners served everywhere and anything else that uses sugar as a major component such as many wines and all cordials. We make our own beer. It is easy, full of yeast and much better tasting than all of the major commercial brands. The most important fact to remember with beer and wine is the dryer or higher the alcohol percentage, generally the lower the amount of carbohydrate.

Vegetarian and vegan recipes are often not okay. The foods are generally high in carbohydrates or fat. From what I have read in cookbooks and magazines, just because a food is supposed to be healthy it is not necessarily diabetic friendly or healthy. The calories need to come from somewhere. This often means starch or sugar. My feelings are that diabetic vegetarians or vegans almost cannot exist due to the necessary complexity of the diet required.

This brings us to one of the most important aspects of diabetic cooking – adding flavor. Bland food will never replace the drive for processed food. Adding flavor and using fresh/whole foods will help this change. Learning to use a variety of flavors and cooking techniques will help drive the necessary change from bad food to healthy. We use the rice cooker, microwave oven, toaster oven, cast iron cookware, pressure cooker and slow cooker a lot. One big change we are making is learning to use an induction burner for much of our cooking. It is more efficient and will probably be the standard in new stoves within ten years.

Richard Gardner lives in Upper Bern Township. His passions are ecology and history because with these we are able to understand our world, our place in it and our future.