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Extension Agent: Cooking Well with Diabetes

By By Erika Bochat
Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.

Erika Bochat

In the past, when Mom prepared those wonderful meals - especially holiday meals - it seemed that people with diabetes were not allowed to eat those delicious desserts made mainly with sugars, starches and fat.

At that time, not enough research had been conducted to give us the information we have today, according to a paper by Mary Claire Kinney Bielamowicz, a Texas A&M extension service nutrition specialist. Now we know that people with diabetes can eat sugars and sweets in moderation.

Recent research has shown that regardless of the type of carbohydrates they eat - whether they are from starches or sugars - people with diabetes can consume carbohydrates, Bielamowicz wrote.

They can still maintain their blood glucose levels as long as they keep the carbohydrates to about 60 percent of their total calories for the day.

Previously, people with diabetes were advised to avoid sugar altogether - but no more, wrote Bielamowicz. Research has shown that people with diabetes can include sugar and other nutritive sweeteners in their menus within the context of a healthful diet.

However, they do need to eat sugars in moderation. Simple sugars are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and can increase blood sugar levels quickly.

Rather than eliminating sugar altogether, a good strategy is for people to try to balance the different kinds of carbohydrates they eat - they should select more starches and fiber (nonstarchy vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, whole fruits) and eat fewer foods containing simple sugars (fruit juices, rich desserts, milk products). Because diabetes is a problem with the body's ability to use carbohydrates, a good rule of thumb is to eat about the same amounts of carbohydrates at each meal throughout the day to keep the body's blood glucose levels more even.

In our upcoming four-session series, "Cooking Well With Diabetes" which begins Nov. 1, we will learn about carbohydrate foods and how to prepare them with and without non-nutritive, or artificial, sweeteners. Participants will be able to:

Recognize the food sources of carbohydrates (starches, fiber and sugars) and the types of fiber found in them.

Name the usual sources of carbohydrates in dessert recipes.

Identify the special cooking properties of sugars.

Reduce, eliminate or substitute ingredients in recipes to reduce the sugar content.

Discover new sweeteners on the market.

Learn to prepare reduced-calorie and reduced-sugar recipes that incorporate non-nutritive sweeteners.

This course compliments the "Do Well Be Well with Diabetes" self-care and nutrition series offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. For more information and how to register for this free workshop series that runs Thursdays, Nov. 1, 8, 15, and Dec. 6, contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Victoria County Office at 361-575-4581. Deadline to reserve your place is 5 p.m. Monday.

Erika Bochat is a Victoria County extension agent- Family and Consumer Sciences.

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