Robyn Webb, MS, is the author of the best-selling A Pinch of Thyme: Easy Lessons for a Leaner Life, Diabetic Meals in 30 Minutes or Less!, The Flavorful Seasons, and Robyn Webb's Memorable Menus Made Easy. She is the recipient of the prestigious President's Council on Fitness Healthy American Fitness Leader Award and the owner of A Pinch of Thyme Cooking School. She has a master's degree in nutrition from Florida State University.
In all my years as a cookbook author specializing in writing for people with diabetes, right now it's more exciting and rewarding than ever. My early audience used my teachings only after they were diagnosed with diabetes, but today my books, articles, and magazine food features are of interest to a much wider audience who are interested in healthy, great-tasting food.
You might say that my work has shifted from creating diabetes-friendly foods to healthy-for-everyone ideas. Recipes and food plans for people with diabetes really should be the blueprint for anyone interested in good health. And who doesn't that apply to these days?
People with diabetes can eat the same foods people without diabetes can. However, I continue to hear from my readers that they face challenges that require more attention than just trying to eat healthier.
Their questions range from “How do I balance carbohydrates for the best blood sugar control?” and “How do I make food taste good when sugar, fat, and sodium have been restricted?” to “How do I keep on a food schedule when everyone around me eats at different times?”
As tough as some of these hurdles may seem, fortunately there are answers for all of these quandaries.
1. Ask for what you need
It's usually easier when you are solely in charge of all the meal decisions, but that's more of an exception than a rule, so speak up for your needs. Once you let others know that you only want a half portion of pasta, you'd like the sauce on the side and that you need to eat a bit earlier than what's planned, you might be pleasantly surprised at the response.
I coach my own clients to specify their dietary needs to their family, and I haven't had a case yet where the requests were denied. In fact, others wanted to follow suit, and soon my clients found themselves as a source of inspiration for their families to eat healthier and wiser.
There are so many resources today that make it easier to plan and prepare healthy meals. When I began as a food editor for Diabetes Forecast Magazine and published my first book, that's all there was—the written word. Today you can choose from a proliferation of videos, join a convenient online support group, find recipes, participate in Twitter chats, and so much more. Now you can watch YouTube and learn all about adding herbs and spices to your recipes without ever having to drive to a class or spend dollars you'd rather save.
Bottom line: the resources are out there. Take some time to make a list of what your meal planning goals are and you will most likely find what you need.
3. Blend in
While I strongly believe in my first point of asking for what you need, I also believe managing your diabetes becomes easier if you don't stress about having "different" food needs.
Realize that not everything can be controlled. Enjoy your life and your meals by doing your best. Take a smaller portion of food that may not necessarily be in your food plan since not eating anything at all is not an option. Let people know about your diabetes if you feel comfortable, but don't let that stop you from participating in food-related activities.
It’s better to learn sets of strategies to eat the best you can rather than avoid situations that could be fun and enjoyable. After all, eating is still one of our greatest pleasures, and that satisfaction is one of the keys to a healthy life.