Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Columns

August 16, 2008

Cooking classes for diabetics set

For people with diabetes, maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is a matter of life and death. One way for people to better control their glucose levels is to eat healthful meals and snacks at regular times each day.

To help local residents learn how to plan and prepare meals that can be enjoyed by people with and without diabetes, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Navarro County is planning a four-part series of cooking classes called Cooking Well with Diabetes. The classes will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. beginning Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the Navarro Regional Hospital first floor classrooms.

The series will include cooking demonstrations as well as discussions of research findings on diabetes. For instance, recent research has shown that people with diabetes can enjoy a wide range of foods — including sugars — in moderation.

Years ago, the term “sugar diabetes” was in common usage because it was thought that eating too much sugar caused diabetes. In those days, people with diabetes were advised to avoid sugar all together.

Those days are gone, said Mary K. Bielamowicz, and Extension nutrition specialist. Research has shown that moderate consumption of sugars and fats can still be part of a healthful diet for people with diabetes, as long as they keep their blood glucose at healthy levels.

Carbohydrates are found in grains, pasta, cereals, dairy products and vegetables, particularly starchy vegetables such as beans, corn, peas, potatoes and winter squash.

Protein foods such as meat, fish and poultry do not contain carbohydrates, unless other ingredients such as breading are added to those dishes.

Many carbohydrates contain fiber, which can help reduce blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate foods that contain high levels of dietary fiber include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Because the body quickly absorbs the glucose from sugary and high-starch foods, eating large amounts of them can cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket. People with diabetes should consume some starchy or sugary foods including breads, potatoes, desserts and fruit juices only in moderation, experts say. Instead of abstaining from sugars and starches altogether, they should consume a balance of different kinds of carbohydrates, such as more whole grains, nonstarchy vegetables and whole fruits, and less starchy and sugary foods.

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