By Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
I recently lost a good friend. His name was Bill, and he was diabetic. He took insulin every day, three times a day to control his glucose levels. He avoided sugar, fat and carbs, but kind of drifted toward other things diabetics should avoid to maintain a healthy heart. Because of his insulin dependency, he had a very regular routine, but on occasion he would do things differently. The morning he passed was a different day, and when I checked on him he had already been gone for several hours. I still expect to see him for coffee or to shoot the breeze in the evening – I miss ya bud.
Bill really knew what he could and could not eat, and he had his schedule down pat. He liked his frozen, microwavable dinners and even kept notes on which ones to buy again and which ones to “never buy again!” He would cut out the labels and write these notes down to keep track. Frozen meals can be high in sodium and are heavily processed, and I do not recommend having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner for most of your weekly meals. I would harp at him about frozen dinners and bring home real food I made from events so he could eat better on occasion. He really liked my cooking so I always tried to bring a couple days’ worth when it was available.
He also liked his whiskey neat and his beer on sale. Once in a while he’d pour me a whiskey. I like whiskey even though it doesn’t like me, but it was nice to have a laugh with Bill over a drink now and then. I wish he had gone to the cardiologist more regularly. I also wished he had eaten better, but I understand some people don’t like to cook. I think those people are weird – and Bill was weird and stubborn, but he was a good dude and a good friend.
I am not a dietitian nor do I have a degree in nutrition so I am not the best to ask about these things, but I wanted to know more. According to activebeat.com here are 10 things diabetics should avoid to maintain blood sugar levels.
Alcohol: it can mess with how the liver functions, especially the way it regulates blood sugar.
Fatty meats: especially fat from red meat which is loaded with saturated fat. Processed meats can also be high in fat and loaded with sodium.
Packaged snacks and trans fat: chips, doughnuts, pretzels and other snack foods can hide away large amounts of salt, sugar, processed flour and preservatives.
Fried foods: usually high in fat and carbs and especially if fried in hydrogenated oils.
No white rice, white rice is stripped of nutrients. Try brown or wild rice instead and in controlled portions.
Dried fruit: while to most, fruit sounds healthy, but dried fruit can make your blood sugar run high. Try fresh fruit instead.
Smoothies: these can be high in calories and carbs. Carbs equal sugar.
Trail mix: nuts are okay in moderation, but trail mix may also have dried fruit and candy mixed in as well. You can make your own – try dried coconut for a little sweetness.
Dairy: full fat milk, yogurt and cheese can be very bad for diabetics. Substitute low-fat or no-fat.
Starch: vegetables are full of nutrients, but they can also be high in starch which is bad for glucose levels. Look up which vegetables are lower in starch and eat the ones you like.
Bill was a really good singer and there was probably no other more avid music fan on the planet. Music was his motivator! I’ll miss listening to music with him and bringing him good food. You never know who might miss you, a daughter, grandkids, a sibling, a neighbor, a little dog, the mail carrier or even a friend like me – so take care of yourself! Here’s to my buddy Bill. Salud!
Want to know more?
Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HSHS Medical Group
1118 Legacy Pointe Drive
Springfield, IL 62711
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.