When you have diabetes, eating can seem like a challenge. “Adjusting your diet sucks, no matter what your motivator is,” shared one member of DiabetesTeam, echoing the frustrations of others who’ve had to change their eating habits. “Most of it is a mental, rather than physical change, although it's also physical. It's easier when you have foods you love and don't have to give up.”
Members who’ve lived with diabetes for many years - and have maintained healthy glucose levels on a diabetes diet - didn’t really give up their favorite foods. They just learned to prepare them differently.
“Now that I know how to cook and bake, I’ve made some tremendous diabetes-friendly dishes - savory and sweet (yes, sweet) - since being diagnosed with type 2 in 2003,” shared one member.
Chaffles! The Hot New Diabetes Recipe
One of the most popular recipes making the rounds on DiabetesTeam is “chaffles.”
A crunchy, low-carb “waffle” made from eggs, cheese, seasonings – and sometimes almond flour - chaffles are “the new diabetes food craze,” raved one member.
Members rave about chaffles because the recipe can also be used to make pizza crusts, lasagna “noodles,” hamburger buns, sandwich bread, and more. “I ate one chaffle for breakfast with butter and sugar-free syrup. The other I used as a bun for my pork-chop sandwich,” shared one member.
“Chaffles are a game changer for carb intake; they’re like eating bread,” proclaimed one member. “They make a huge difference in my [blood sugar] numbers, and keep me feeling satisfied,” said another. “I no longer reach for unhealthy carbs to fill up.”
Members’ Diabetes Breakfast Ideas
Starting the day with a nutritious meal is the best way to avoid “falling off the wagon” later on, say members of DiabetesTeam. In addition to chaffles, members share their go-to breakfasts:
- Meal in a mug: This quick-and-easy dish is composed of one cup oatmeal, cottage cheese or yogurt topped with fruit, nuts and seeds, a dash of low-fat milk, and a sprinkle of low-carb sweeteners. For a morning protein shot, another member microwaves egg whites and cheese in a mug.
- Pancakes: “Does anyone have diabetes pancake recipes?” members regularly ask. Several use gluten-free pancake mixes, which are lower in carbs. Shared one member: “I use one called Birch Benders. Tasty!”
- Eggs: The breakfast of protein-cravers, one man wrote: “I like omelets or frittatas with spinach, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese, ham, tomatoes…hell, the kitchen sink! But no toast or home fries.”
Members’ Diabetes Lunch Ideas
Whether eating at home, at work, or on the go, members stick with light salads and veggies - sometimes combined with whole grains, at lunch.
- Salads: One member’s “go-to lunch” is a chickpea salad with avocado and red onion. “I absolutely love it.”
- Grains: Another whips up tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish made from bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, mint, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Quinoa and tofu hit the spot for yet another member.
Members’ Diabetes Dinner Ideas
Evening meals present the greatest challenge to MyDiabetesTeam members, particularly when trying to prepare dishes the whole family can enjoy.
- Chicken: One member asked her daughter to recommend a favorite recipe. “She taught me to make Spanish chicken breast. Put the chicken breast in a skillet with a little butter, onion, and red bell pepper. When cooked, add fresh spinach, sour cream, and your favorite seasoning.”
- Fish: Salmon is a favorite among DiabetesTeam members. One man, who’s also a culinary school graduate, shares his easy-to-make recipe: “Dan’s Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon.” The fish is marinated in soy sauce for 30 minutes, then grilled on a cedar plank.
- Pasta: Zoodles (zucchini noodles) are a low-carb alternative to traditional pasta, which can be purchased ready-made, or prepared with a vegetable “spiralizer.” “I tried zoodles last night and was instantly hooked. I made a butter, garlic, and parmesan version but there are a whole lot of other recipes for them. BANISH THE CARBS!” said one woman. Another member just eats less pasta: “I’m Italian, carbs are my life. When I want spaghetti, I have one or two tablespoons, not a whole plate.”
- Side dishes: How do members perk up “boring” sides? “The trick is coming up with new recipes to cook veggies,” said one man. Some members use versatile cauliflower instead of potatoes, rice, and pasta.
Members’ Diabetes Snack Ideas
Having delicious, healthy snacks on hand is important for a quick, blood-sugar-leveling bite during the day. Here are some of members’ go-to snacks:
- Celery sticks with unsalted peanut butter
- Small bowl of low-sugar fruits: Apples, berries, kiwis, and pears
- Handful of unsalted nuts, any kind
- Pickles: “You can eat as many as you want!” said one member.
- Low-sugar, low-carb snack bars
- Popcorn or rice cakes (unsalted, no-sugar versions)
Members’ Diabetes Dessert Ideas
Tweaking traditional dessert recipes with lower-carb ingredients helps members satisfy their “sweet tooths” and avoid “cheats” that spike blood-sugar levels. “I doctor-up regular recipes to match my carb and calorie limits,” said one woman.
Members swap traditional flour for almond or other gluten-free flours, use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, and reduce fat intake by using half butter, half olive oil.
Member dessert favorites include:
- Frozen sugar-free chocolate pudding: ”Only 70 calories and 1.5 grams of carbs, lasted me two days of sweet heaven,” said one member. Another freezes pudding into popsicles for a “Fudgsicle-like” dessert.
- Ice cream: “My husband makes me ice cream with Xylitol, evaporated milk and vanilla. It’s such a treat!” said one woman.
- Brownies and cookies: “I experimented with my favorite brownie recipe, using oat and chickpea flour, and sucralose instead of sugar,” said one woman. “I also made a recipe for oatmeal cookie changing a few ingredients - artificial sweetener for regular sugar and almond meal for flour.”
- Portion-control dessert: To avoid overeating dessert, one member suggested making only enough for a mug or small bowl. “That way, you only have one portion and no leftovers.”
Always work with your doctor or dietician to create a meal plan that matches your calorie, fat, and carb limits. “You're not dieting, you're changing your life-long eating habits to accommodate your own food addictions (sugar, carbs, caffeine, salt, etc),” advised one member.
On DiabetesTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with diabetes, members talk about a range of personal experiences including recipes and tips for healthy meals.
Here are some questions and answers about healthy meals and go-to snacks:
Here are some conversations about healthy meals and go-to snacks:
Can you relate? Go to DiabetesTeam today and start the conversation. You'll be surprised how many others share similar stories.