November is American Diabetes Month®and many of us here at the American Diabetes Association work particularly hard during this time to raise awareness about diabetes and the challenges faced by the 25.8 million people currently living with diabetes in the United States. Through a variety of channels, we’re pulling out all the stops to ensure everyone—policy makers, researchers, health care professionals, friends, family, the media—remembers how serious diabetes is and what people with the disease and their families go through every day in order to manage their condition.
But most of us also consider November to be the kick-off to the holiday season, a time when family, friends and loved ones all come together to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company. During this time we show our affection in many ways, but there’s generally one constant: food. And lots of it. Which means those with diabetes are often in a difficult position of trying to balance the gustatory delights of a full holiday spread with the nutritional requirements of a healthy diabetes meal plan.
I saw this conflict firsthand a few years ago, the year my grandmother was told she had type 2 diabetes. She had been diagnosed earlier in the year, and, in a scene that will seem familiar to more than a few, Thanksgiving Day found most of my family digging into literal mountains of potatoes, stuffing, turkey and ham. Meanwhile, my grandma sat off forlornly poking at what is commonly known as “rabbit food.”
Having worked on cookbooks for the Association, I knew this was not how my grandma needed to be spending her Thanksgiving. Once back home, I mailed her some of our cookbooks and gently tried to explain that having diabetes doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love. It may mean tweaking those foods a little or adjusting the portions, but it doesn’t mean a life of “rabbit food.”
More importantly, my grandma needed to realize that she and the rest of my family should not have been eating differently. I’m not saying that she should have been digging into a Devils Tower–sized serving of mashed potatoes like the rest of us. Rather, if my grandmother had pulled together a few healthy, diabetes-friendly dishes for our buffet, we would have all been better off—because people with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet as everyone else. And like most people who try a recipe from the Association for the first time, my family would have been blown away by how amazing it tasted.
All of this came to mind to me this month as we prepared for the release of Family Classics Diabetes Cookbook, a beautiful collection of the recipes from Diabetes Forecast magazine. Just in time for American Diabetes Month and the beginning of the holiday season, this book perfectly addresses both what the Association is doing to Stop Diabetes® and the problem we had that Thanksgiving a few years ago.
Filled with the best recipes from the last few years of Diabetes Forecast, this book is a showcase of the best of what our food editors can do. Looking through the past decade of the magazine, we identified more than 140 of what we, and our readers, thought were the best recipes published. Plus, we had beautiful, full-color photographs of every recipe, something that we often don’t have the budget to do in our cookbooks.
The result: a handsome collection of appetizers, sides, main dishes and desserts that flat-out prove that diabetes-friendly recipes can be crowd-pleasers. If you’ve been clipping recipes from Forecast, consider this dozens of hours saved (and better looking than a notebook full of scraps). If you’re new to Diabetes Forecast, consider this a wonderful introduction to what the food editors at the magazine bring every month. And if you’re just looking for a diabetes cookbook that covers it all, I can’t think of a better book than this one.
Just as importantly, this book recognizes the importance of food, not just for managing glucose levels, but also for bringing together families like nothing else can. And it’s one I wish grandmother could have had on her shelf before she had split up our family menu, because any of these recipes would have been a hit and kept my grandma at the table instead of off in food purgatory.
While we work this month to raise awareness and Stop Diabetes, your thoughts are also going to be with your family, friends and loved ones. Proceeds from the book will go to help further the mission of the Association, but I think its real impact is potentially more personal. If we can help just one family avoid a Thanksgiving like the one my grandma went through years ago, if we can bring one family together around food good for everyone at the table, then this book will be an unmitigated success.
Director of Book Publishing
American Diabetes Association