5 November 2013 Diabetes Diary: “The Diabetes Prevention & Management Cookbook”

Starting with the Right Ingredients

In my experience, food that tastes great typically comes from chefs and nutrition information that is accurate typically comes from nutrition researchers/professionals. A cookbook for people with diabetes needs to provide great tasting food that is also carb-controlled and heart healthy. In my opinion, that is most likely to happen when a chef works in consultation with a dietitian.

Having said that, I was biased right off the bat in favor of Diabetes Prevention & Management Cookbook because the author mix is solid: Johanna Burkhard, an experienced cookbook author (with a Food Science degree) is paired with Barbara Allen, a Registered Dietitian (RD)/Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). To boot, the nutritional analyses were performed by Food Intelligence, a company that uses an RD to ensure that the analyses were accurate and precise.

The Recipe Works!

The content and physical layout of this book works well - the organization of content makes sense, it is well-written, and the pages have summary boxes that pop out and help the reader focus on important concepts and questions.

Here is just a snapshot of the chapters and what I like about them.

Diabetes Concepts

Key concepts are explained thoroughly yet simply. This is the type of information that would be contained in clinic-based diabetes class — diagnosis, pathophysiology, labs, complications, important studies and how they inform care and management of your chronic condition.

Nutrition 101

The authors are Canadian so nutrition goals are included for both the United States (U.S.) and Canada — very much appreciated since I work in the U.S. A good review of basic nutrition for diabetes is shared - fats, carbs, protein (macronutrients) , vitamin and minerals (micronutrients), supplement use, whole foods approach (hurray!), basic caloric requirements, and how to food labels (and what to ignore).

10-Step Approach

The authors share basic approaches to diet, exercise, and sleep to support diabetes prevention as well as management. I like that they addressed meal timing, carb goals for meals/snacks, glycemic index, heart healthy fats, lean proteins, sodium, beverage choices, modest weight loss goals, mindful eating, weight resistance exercise, and the importance of sleep for mental health.

Menus & Recipes

I am not a fussy or expert home cook. I like recipes that are simple and efficient to prepare so I especially liked the fact that 215 pages were devoted to this subject. I like that there is a month's worth of menus but I wish they had included more caloric levels. They include a thorough menu for 1600 calories but I did not see modifications to obtain 1200 calories - a useful level to ensure weight loss in shorter, sedentary women. I hope this is something the authors will consider to include in their next edition.

Recipes included are for appetizers, soups, salads and their dressings, beef, lamb (hurray!), pork, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, tofu, pasta, legumes, whole grains, veggies galore, breads, muffins, cookies, and other desserts. I also like the sandwich ideas that are carb-controlled, and the list of 100-calories and 200-calories snack ideas.

Sweet dishes — I like that the recipes make artificial sweeteners optional as well as include recipes that do not include them at all.

Breakfast dishes — some great ideas especially for the person with diabetes who is also athletic and needs a solid carb foundation for training.

Simple & easy recipes — every recipe I reviewed had common ingredients that could be purchased in most supermarkets (at least in the U.S.).

Legumes primer — I appreciated the section on how to prepare legumes-soaking, cooking, and general tips. I find that many people avoid legumes because they don't know what to do with them.

There is also chart on how to dine out healthfully by cuisine type — very helpful.

Note About Carb Goals for Meals

The authors use a common recommendation of 45 - 75 grams total carbs per meal as a goal. If all of my clients and patients with Type 2 diabetes or Prediabetes chose whole food/high fiber carb foods, exercised at least 30 minutes daily, and lost weight if they were overweight, then I would agree that one could go as high as 45 - 75 grams total carbohydrates per meal and still maintain good blood glucose control. But in my clinical experience, I find that these folks are often sedentary, overweight, use more refined sources of carbs, and their blood glucose levels after a meal are improved if they are more carb-controlled than the standard recommendation.

If a person is taking a diabetes medication that has a low risk for low blood glucose (e.g. Metformin) or if the person is not yet on a diabetes medication, then I discuss the patient's goals and find out what type of eating plan they want to try to lose weight. The total carb goal is often 30 grams or less/meal for women and 30-45 grams or less/meal for men, all with an emphasis on whole food/unprocessed/higher fiber carb choices. Their meal carb goals could be even lower — which makes education on heart healthy fats and protein choices important since those foods will increase with a lower carb intake.

For folks who take insulin or who take a medication that increases the risk for low blood glucose (e.g. the sulfonylureas — glyburide, glypizide, etc), the meal and snack carb goals are customized based upon the person's history of highs and lows, eating patterns, and exercise patterns.

Who Won't Like This Book?

If you are an avid fan of the Paleo Diet or Low Carb Diet and are going gangbusters with weight loss and effective reduction of your blood cholesterol levels with a relatively higher intake of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, then you might not find this book as helpful. Although there are many great low-carb protein dishes in this book, the recipes are much more in keeping with the spirit of Mediterranean style eating - not necessarily low in fat but a much greater focus on olive oil, legumes, whole grains, in addition to lean proteins, non-starchy veggies, and moderate carb content.

The Bottom Line

One can start with good ingredients, but they still have to be combined and processed correctly to produce a great dish. So how does this book fare as a final product? Excellent! I will definitely recommend this book to my clients and patients who have diabetes.

Want more information about diabetes now? Check out my article, “Diabetes Basics” at MyNetDiary. And while you are at it, find out what Diabetes Tracker (a mobile phone app and web program) can do for you by reading “Tracking Diabetes with MyNetDiary”.

Disclosure: I received “The Diabetes Prevention & Management Cookbook” free of charge from Robert Rose Publishers for review, however, I am not being paid to endorse this book.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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