Diabetic Compatible Eating—No organic baby arugula necessary!

Written by Ward Alper

“The wealthier and better-educated county type, such as the 'monied burbs, industrial metropolis, boom towns, and campus and career counties', all have diabetes rates below the national average. As we have noted, these communities are home to roughly 90% of Whole Foods organic grocery stores. That may be driven in large part by income, but it is also driven by desire. Not everyone can pay for organic arugula, but not everyone wants it either.”

Dante Chinni, Director of Patchwork Nation.

Some statistics (referred to above) seem to show that there is a relationship between diabetes and household income. That may be so. However, there is not necessarily a relationship for eating a good diabetic- compatible diet and your income. Or to be clear, you don’t have to be rich to make healthier food choices.

Gimme Spinach

Organic baby arugula may be a good choice, but to be honest, it is not my first choice for a leafy green. For me it is spinach. Remember that stuff that Popeye eats? That is right! Plain old cheap spinach, packed with nutrients, fiber, and most important, taste. I have to wonder if the creator of the Popeye cartoon (E.C. Segar) was even giving us a hint about good nutrition, by naming Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oyl way back in 1929.

I love spinach! I use it as a vegetable by itself, seasoned with lemon and olive oil, a casserole with cheese, a stuffing for chicken, fish, and mushrooms, mixed with cream cheese for a dip,  an amazing spinach tuna nicoise salad. I can’t even begin to list how useful it is.

Fresh vs. Frozen

And yes, in case you are wondering, I use fresh for salads and as a bed for rich dishes in place of rice or pasta, but I do use frozen spinach for most of the other spinach based items. It is easier to use than fresh, and ounce for ounce, less expensive. I have boxes of it in my freezer for whatever and whenever I need to use it. Having it frozen does not diminish the nutritive value, fiber, and does not change the flavor much either. And it stays forever. I don’t have to plan to have it in the house.

Using What is Available 

Baby organic arugula may be great but so are other leafy greens. Most “stupidmarkets” have dozens of varieties of lettuces that are less expensive and still have some value, if not  in nutrients, in flavor and textures. I admit that I even have the much maligned iceberg lettuce in my refrigerator. For me, there is nothing to beat the “icy” crispness of iceberg lettuce on a turkey sandwich or over the top of a tortilla. You can’t make wedge salad with some fancy lettuce. It just ain’t right!

Looking Forward to What You Eat

Not to preach to you, but what you need to do is find a way of eating foods that are better choices for you as a Diabetic  and that you will actually look forward to eating. The dietary changes for a Diabetic, or anyone who has a disease where what you can and cannot eat makes a serious difference (Celiac, gluten allergy, nut allergy, egg allergy, etc.) is not the same thing as that diet many of us have done in order to lose a few extra pounds. This way of eating has to become a new way of life.

What I learned to do over the years, in order to stick with the necessary choices, is to make items I prepared be as different and delicious as I can make them. EXCEPT the dishes I like the most. Those I prepare over and over again.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to taste great! It doesn’t have to be “gourmet”, but I think you have to have a lot of variety in your choices. Sometimes it helps to open your mind and your mouth to a few new and different flavors. Try something new. If you hate it, don’t ever make it again!

Last Tip

Buy foods in season and when they are on sale. This will not only give you the most flavor, it will save you a few bucks.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT!