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I am a private chef and will have to cook for 16 days for a person recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The meals I'm required to prepare are lunch and dinner. There will be six people and dinners are served family style.

I have occasionally cooked for the family in the past and the meals have always been simple, eclectic and very healthy made from the highest quality ingredients which I have access to. I have never baked for this family and don't see any reason to start now.

What I need is information and resources on low-glycemic, diabetic diets. We also love to eat creative, fun and interesting foods so that should make it easier. I'm just curious what ideas are there, so please share.

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2 Answers 2

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Recently diagnosed Type II Diabetes patients are frequently prescribed a low-carbohydrate diet. The type of carbohydrate ("slow" or "simple" are familiar terms) doesn't matter so much as the total number of carbohydrates.

A person with this dietary prescription would have learned to count gross carbohydrates and to eat the same number of carbohydrates at every meal. Their calories ought to come primarily from protein and fat, but also from a modest portion of carbohydrates.

Therefore, something such as a salad w/ dressing, a protein, a vegetable side, and a modest portion of starchy food would probably be most appropriate. Legumes, and other fiber-rich sources of carbohydrates, have the added benefits of being more satisfying and nutritious (as opposed to, say, white rice). They also sport a low glycemic-index.

For example: Salad, a reasonable portion of a creamy-type chicken dish, a steamed (non-starchy) vegetable side, and a modest portion of whole grains, legumes, or starchy vegetables.

Dessert, for the recently diagnosed, is probably too optimistic. Something along the lines of a low-sugar lemon sorbet might work. Sugar substitutes, although they taste bad, are medically acceptable.

You can find specific recommendations on the number of carbohydrates for diabetics on various websites, but it's probably easiest to just ask your client about their individual situation.

There is one extra consideration that is easy for a cook to miss: thickeners, such as cornstarch or flour, can have a very high carbohydrate content; certain vegetables, while they do not seem starchy, actually have quite a bit of sugar. If your client is seriously following the diet I've described, then such carbohydrate sources must be taken into account.

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I give you the green check because you very elegantly summed up the information throughout the web I have been looking at. –  Adam S Feb 11 '11 at 0:12

Assuming that this is a relatively mild case of diabetes, this isn't too different from "normal" food. In type 2 diabetes, the problems begin when too much sugar is made available to the body quickly. This is actually more easily avoided than most people realize, through some simple guidelines.

  • No simple, easily absorbed sugar. This is obvious. Avoid any sugar that comes in packets. Also go easy on sweet fruit (like peaches or grapes) as they contain sugar too.
  • More complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (aside from sugar itself) are broken down by the body into sugars. This is fine, the energy has to come from somewhere. However, different types of carbs break down at different rates, and therefore have a different effect on the blood sugar levels. This is defined by the food's glycemic index (GI). Try to aim for foods with a lower GI, these are occasionally surprising. Sweet potato, for instance, has a lower GI than potatoes.
  • More fibre. Another simple method of slowing the rush of sugar to the bloodstream is to eat the carbs with fibre. Generally, nature has done just this, and it is man who has refined it into pure sugar. Sugar cane is like chewing a stick. Whole grains, like whole rice, quinoa or oats, are quite fibery and slow down the sugar absorption from their own carbs.

That's a quick run down of the basics. For more information on the glycemic index, see http://www.glycemicindex.com/

Disclaimer: I am not a diabetic, but I eat as described and am hoping to avoid becoming one.

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I've also heard about problems with dried fruit (eg, raisins), as the sugars are more concentrated. (but I'm not diabetic, either) –  Joe Jan 27 '11 at 17:57
    
There are two issues with dried fruit. First, they are more concentrated (sugar/weight) as the water is gone. Second, a lot of dried fruit is soaked in a sugar solution before dehydration, which is done to keep it nice and soft, as well as sweeten it. If you get a chance at a health-food store, find sugar-free dried pineapple, and compare it to "regular" dried pineapple. –  Carmi Jan 27 '11 at 20:03

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