Two new diabetes food books worth chewing on



Not food in the sense of recipes and cooking, but food in the sense of how to eat healthy. This Spring I had the pleasure, along with several other women, to contribute to Amy Mercer’s new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Eating Right with Diabetes: What Will Work.

This is a great read if you’re still trying to figure out how to eat sensibly and not give up everything you love – and who among us isn’t to some degree? Amy shares her own struggle and successes with food and invites about 10 of us fellow smart, successful women with diabetes to share what we do so that we manage to control our blood sugar, and manage our carbs, while still eating things we love. Not only will you get tips, but I guarantee you will feel you have a community of women to hang out with while yore reading and a cheering squad who get “it”.

This is also an exceptional book for health care providers to get, and share, a real-life picture of what actually works for patients, rather than just dispense the standard dietary guidelines.

Two weeks ago I read Ginger Vieira’s new book, Emotional Eating with Diabetes: Your guide to creating a positive relationship with food. Ginger is not only an amazing diabetes videographer, power-lifter and writer, but she’s also a health coach. So when Ginger talks about ‘emotional eating’ she knows of what she speaks.

The book is big in size, yet short in pages. Just the right length to cover just the essential, most important topics regarding eating: both the difficulties and hardships, the battling and fighting food, and how to be more successful with an eating plan and staying positive. 

Ginger’s topics include: Habits that lead to overeating, Over-treating lows, (boy, don’t I remember early on eating everything in sight from pie to toast and jam, cookies and fruit, all at the same time, to get my blood sugar up!), Using food to stuff emotions and then coming into the light to develop a more positive relationship with food. 

Psychologist, Dr. Bill Polonsky writes the forward and there are several worksheets in the book, for as any good coach does, Ginger asks you to do the work. You’ll also get Ginger’s insightful questions to help you, and her mantra, which I love, which is that we are all a work in progress. 


“Eat less!” says the government


It makes you wonder why it’s taken the government so long to say the obvious to a nation of people two-thirds of whom are obese, “Eat less!” Finally they’ve said it in their latest nutrition guidelines that came out on Monday.

Along with those blunt words come equally blunt words naming names – drink “water” instead of “soda.” Oh, my.

Of course I wonder what finally got the government to get with the program given the entrenched powerful food lobbyists in Washington who cannot be pleased. Not when the government says eat more nutritionally dense foods.

As for general dietary recommendations regarding what to eat, those haven’t changed: eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and less salt and saturated fat. 

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest remarks how much more valuable these guidelines are than the “big vague messages” of, well, …hmmm…only last year. She cites before these new guidelines just issued that the message was to eat more vegetables which could have meant adding a slice of tomato to your hamburger. Now the recommendation is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Of course I know a lot of diabetes educators and dietitians who’ve been saying that for years. It’s called the “Plate Method” and is an easy way to create a healthy meal.

Many food manufacturers have recently begun reconfiguring their recipes to cut down on added sodium. Will restaurants now cut down on portions? When I eat out, I typically share an appetizer and take half my dinner home. 

As obvious as the government’s recommendation is, equally obvious, at least to me, is it will not be easy to do this unless everything around us supports eating less. For instance, government farm policies need to be overhauled to provide incentives for farmers to plant more fruits and vegetables. Prices for them need to drop and access to them needs to rise. School cafeteria food needs to change, airport kiosks need to have healthier options etcetera, etcetera.

But I’m pleased. After decades of the government, like in the fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, saying what beautiful clothes the naked Emperor is wearing, federal regulators have finally put on their glasses and declared,  “hmmm…you look a little naked there Emperor.” 

You can read more in, “Government’s Dietary Advice: Eat Less,” in the NY Times.


Diabetes foods I can’t do without

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I don’t eat “diabetic” foods. I don’t eat anything that says, “made for diabetics” and I hardly ever eat sugar-free foods. If I want something like chocolate or jam I eat a small amount of the real thing. I’m more concerned what chemicals they put in when they take the sugar out. Besides, many foods “made for diabetics” have as much carbohydrate as the real thing. 

I’ve even managed to reduce my dependence on artificial sweeteners. It’s been a long slog. But now, a little half & half in my coffee or tea makes it mouth-satisfying enough that I don’t want, or even like, the sweetness anymore that a Splenda or Equal gives it. And oatmeal and cottage cheese without sweetening taste just as good, as my sweet-tooth has waned. 

But here’s a food made for diabetics that is always in my pantry:

Extend Snacks. I found Extend Bars, one of the company’s original products, years ago and they’ve been in my house ever since. If when I’m going to sleep, I’ve had enough wine with dinner that I know my blood sugar will drop significantly through the night, I eat one-third of this bar and I wake up fine. (Amount may vary for you). Extend Snacks now include crisps and shakes and all their products work on the same principle: they contain cornstarch which breaks down very slowly and helps maintain level blood sugar for 7 to 9 hours. 

Extend Snacks were created by pediatric endocrinologist Francine Kaufmanafter she noticed cornstarch’s ability to help patients with severe lows. If that sounds a little too medical, the bars taste really good. Peanut Butter Chocolate Delight is the most popular and my favorite.

Extend Snacks are available at Walgreens and other chain stores. Or you can order online as I do because they’re not in the NY area, yet. In fact just recently I’ve been part of a letter writing campaign to try and bring them to New York City chain drug store CVS and Walmart.

By the way, Extend Snacks hasn’t asked me to write this. I just like to share what works for me in the hopes it may work for you.