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16 Cookbooks for People with Diabetes That Are Full of Flavorful, Nutritious Dishes You'll Love

Prevention Logo By Arielle Weg of Prevention | Slide 1 of 17: What you eat can be a useful tool in managing blood sugars, especially if you're a type 2 diabetic or prediabetic. But you don’t have to give up your favorite foods or totally uproot your routine to stay on track. It can be tricky to determine what foods you should be eating and which portion sizes are helpful for managing your blood sugar—all while trying to get dinner on the table, which is where our favorite selection of diabetes-friendly cookbooks comes in handy.What is a “diabetes diet,” anyway?When you think of a diabetes diet, you might first envision low-sugar and low-carb foods. But the truth is, every person is going to have a different blood sugar response to foods, and the nutritional needs for people change based on their age, weight, activity levels, and blood sugar fluctuations, explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., founder of Nutrition Starring YOU and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.Though there’s no one-size-fits-all diabetic diet, a common prescription for those with diabetes is to use carb counting to minimize blood sugar fluctuations, says Vandana Sheth, R.D., dietitian, and author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes. “All foods can be enjoyed by someone with diabetes. The key is to watch portions and pair foods appropriately to minimize big swings in blood sugar,” she says. Using diet to manage type 2 diabetes or prediabetes can help prevent medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness, says Deena Adimoolam, M.D., endocrinologist and obesity specialist.In these cases, the overall diet will often be low in carbs, and focused on incorporating more protein and non-starchy vegetables into meals, explains Dr. Adimoolam. “When one does eat carbs, focus on choosing less simple sugars (like cakes and cookies), and choose more complex sugars instead (like whole grain bread and brown rice),” she says. “It’s also important to read nutrition labels and identify hidden simple sugar in foods, like dextrose and high fructose corn syrup.” When cooking at home, a typical “diabetes-friendly” plate consists of a healthy fat, half the plate full of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter-to-two-thirds full of lean protein, and the rest filled with a high-fiber carbohydrate, explains Sheth. But, every body is different, and it’s important to work with your doctor or nutritionist to discuss your health goals and a diet plan that works best for you, notes Dr. Adimoolam. What makes a cookbook diabetes-specific?Every publisher has different guidelines for calling a cookbook diabetes-specific. Some are published by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and are often reviewed by an ADA member to ensure they align with the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes and other policies held by the ADA. All diabetes-specific cookbooks should be seen as guidelines and are not meant to be used as a prescription for any disease or condition, according to disclaimers of ADA published books. Most low-glycemic diabetes-friendly cookbooks will focus on heart-healthy foods, lower amounts of sodium, and saturated fats, quality carbohydrates, and lean proteins, Harris-Pincus says. This is different from a low-carb or low-sugar cookbook that may not account for keeping calories, fats, and sodium moderate, which are all essential for a healthy diet. Additionally, most diabetes cookbooks will include nutrition facts on recipes.“Given that everyone has different medical needs, cooking skills, time constraints, access to food, and socioeconomic status, each person needs to go through and find things that fit their lifestyle and their family,” she says. “A lot of these books are designed to be just generally friendly for anyone who would be eating the recipe. They’re not extreme, they’re not no-carb, and they’re not flavorless.”With the help of your doctor and registered dietitian, these cookbooks will help you manage blood sugars, become a master in the kitchen, cooking up flavorful, healthy meals every night of the week.

What you eat can be a useful tool in managing blood sugars, especially if you're a type 2 diabetic or prediabetic. But you don’t have to give up your favorite foods or totally uproot your routine to stay on track. It can be tricky to determine what foods you should be eating and which portion sizes are helpful for managing your blood sugar—all while trying to get dinner on the table, which is where our favorite selection of diabetes-friendly cookbooks comes in handy.

What is a “diabetes diet,” anyway?

When you think of a diabetes diet, you might first envision low-sugar and low-carb foods. But the truth is, every person is going to have a different blood sugar response to foods, and the nutritional needs for people change based on their age, weight, activity levels, and blood sugar fluctuations, explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., founder of Nutrition Starring YOU and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.

Though there’s no one-size-fits-all diabetic diet, a common prescription for those with diabetes is to use carb counting to minimize blood sugar fluctuations, says Vandana Sheth, R.D., dietitian, and author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes. “All foods can be enjoyed by someone with diabetes. The key is to watch portions and pair foods appropriately to minimize big swings in blood sugar,” she says. Using diet to manage type 2 diabetes or prediabetes can help prevent medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness, says Deena Adimoolam, M.D., endocrinologist and obesity specialist.

In these cases, the overall diet will often be low in carbs, and focused on incorporating more protein and non-starchy vegetables into meals, explains Dr. Adimoolam. “When one does eat carbs, focus on choosing less simple sugars (like cakes and cookies), and choose more complex sugars instead (like whole grain bread and brown rice),” she says. “It’s also important to read nutrition labels and identify hidden simple sugar in foods, like dextrose and high fructose corn syrup.”

When cooking at home, a typical “diabetes-friendly” plate consists of a healthy fat, half the plate full of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter-to-two-thirds full of lean protein, and the rest filled with a high-fiber carbohydrate, explains Sheth.

But, every body is different, and it’s important to work with your doctor or nutritionist to discuss your health goals and a diet plan that works best for you, notes Dr. Adimoolam.

What makes a cookbook diabetes-specific?

Every publisher has different guidelines for calling a cookbook diabetes-specific. Some are published by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and are often reviewed by an ADA member to ensure they align with the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes and other policies held by the ADA. All diabetes-specific cookbooks should be seen as guidelines and are not meant to be used as a prescription for any disease or condition, according to disclaimers of ADA published books.

Most low-glycemic diabetes-friendly cookbooks will focus on heart-healthy foods, lower amounts of sodium, and saturated fats, quality carbohydrates, and lean proteins, Harris-Pincus says. This is different from a low-carb or low-sugar cookbook that may not account for keeping calories, fats, and sodium moderate, which are all essential for a healthy diet. Additionally, most diabetes cookbooks will include nutrition facts on recipes.

“Given that everyone has different medical needs, cooking skills, time constraints, access to food, and socioeconomic status, each person needs to go through and find things that fit their lifestyle and their family,” she says. “A lot of these books are designed to be just generally friendly for anyone who would be eating the recipe. They’re not extreme, they’re not no-carb, and they’re not flavorless.”

With the help of your doctor and registered dietitian, these cookbooks will help you manage blood sugars, become a master in the kitchen, cooking up flavorful, healthy meals every night of the week.

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