Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


August 28, 2012

Healthy meals for diabetics

Classes offered to help people with diabetes plan healthful meals

Corsicana — For people with diabetes, maintaining healthy blood glucose levels can be 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 A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Navarro County is planning a two-part cooking class called Cooking Well with Diabetes.  The classes will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 and Sept. 11 in the dining room at Navarro Regional Hospital. The course fee is $10 and each participant will receive an American Diabetes Association Cookbook at the completion of the series.

The classes 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, an 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, non-starchy vegetables and whole fruits, and less starchy and sugary foods.

Another way to reduce your sugar intake is to modify your recipes.  For example:

When baking, reduce the amount of sugar by one-quarter to one-third; in cookies, bars or cakes, replace one-quarter of the sugar with nonfat dry milk.  This cuts calories while increasing the calcium and protein in the finished product; add extra flavorings or spices; use unsweetened frozen fruit juice or fruit canned in its own juice instead of fruit canned in syrup; replace some of the sugar in a recipe with fruit juices or purees.

 Because diabetes is a problem of carbohydrate metabolism (how the body uses carbohydrates), eating about the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal will help maintain blood glucose levels throughout the day.

 To register for the Cooking Well with Diabetes class or for more information, contact Texas AgriLife Extension Navarro County at 903-654-3075 or visit


Paula Butler is a Texas AgriLife Extension Agent. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email:


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