Dealing with Diabetes

According to 2011 data from the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. This staggering number does not include the millions of Americans with prediabetes or other types of insulin resistance. Responding to increased awareness and diagnosed cases, publishers have released new books that focus not only on diet and exercise, key elements of diabetes treatment, but also prevention.

Most diabetes cookbooks contain tools to help readers follow diet plans prescribed by their physician or nutritionist. While nutritional values, exchange lists, glycemic index tables, and menus are useful, they’re unlikely to pique readers’ appetites. Libraries should consider the presence of these features in books they’re considering for purchase, but they should be as concerned with overall credibility and appeal. Some readers will want beautiful photographs, inspiring testimonials, and familiar foods, while others will want more complex cuisine. These cookbooks often target a specific audience (diagnosed or at-risk individuals and their families), but they will also appeal to those concerned with weight management and heart health.

Some of the latest titles focus not only on diet but also on medical issues. The Mayo Clinic Diet Plan, now available in paperback, emphasizes using proper eating habits in order to improve health without relying on medications. Similarly, Hillary Wright’s The Prediabetes Diet Plan stresses the importance of making dietary changes to prevent or even reverse the effects of diabetes.

Hughes, Nancy S. Gluten-Free Recipes for People with Diabetes: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Gluten-Free Living. American Diabetes Assn. Oct. 2013. 168p. ISBN 9781580404952. pap. $16.95. COOKING

This collection of gluten-free and diabetes-friendly grocery lists, menus, and recipes can help readers cope with an overwhelming double diagnosis of celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. Hughes (The 4-Ingredient Diabetes Cookbook)—a prolific recipe developer who’s worked with Weight Watchers, the American Heart Association, Betty Crocker, and other organizations—incorporates practical information such as how to read food labels, avoid cross-contamination, educate family members, and plan for travel and eating out. Recipes that include Spanish olive and herbed hummus, chop-free chili, and kid-friendly lazy chicken quesadillas, many made mostly of packaged ingredients, will appeal most to readers who prefer quick and easy cooking. VERDICT Recommended for busy and inexperienced cooks who would like an unintimidating introduction to diet planning.

Petusevsky, Steven. The American Diabetes Association Vegetarian Cookbook: Satisfying, Bold, and Flavorful Recipes from the Garden. American Diabetes Assn. Nov. 2013. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781580404877. pap. $19.95. COOKING

Diagnosed with prediabetes in 2011, chef Petusevsky (The Whole Foods Market Cookbook) dramatically changed his lifestyle, committing to regular exercise and a mostly vegetarian diet. Appealing to several classifications of “-tarians” (vegetarians, flexitarians, fruitarians, and vegans), he explains how to stock a vegetarian pantry and cook foods that have helped him manage his condition. Organized by course (e.g., soups, raw and ready salads, on the side), creative recipes such as autumn skillet paella and twice-cooked sweet potato croquettes (baked, not fried) emphasize flavor over health benefits. Each recipe lists serving sizes, exchange values, and nutrition information. VERDICT Petusevsky’s latest title can help readers find flavorful vegetarian recipes that suit their dietary needs.

Seelig-Brown, Barbara. The Healthy Home Cookbook: Diabetes-Friendly Recipes for Holidays, Parties, and Everyday Celebrations. American Diabetes Assn. Dec. 2013. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781580405157. pap. $24.95. COOKING

Seelig-Brown, whose Stress Free Cooking brand includes a television show and several cookbooks, seeks to prove entertaining can be economical, indulgent, and diabetes-friendly. Introducing this collection, she forgoes medical information in favor of cheery tips on how to read a recipe, stock a healthy pantry, and choose wine pairings. Her elegant recipes, organized by occasion (e.g., brunch, dazzling dinner parties, Thanksgiving), will look lovely on the table but will frustrate readers faced with portioning them into serving sizes such as “1/9 recipe.” Some recipes previously appeared in the author’s The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen: Over 150 Easy and Delicious Diabetes Recipes Designed for No-Hassle Cooking. VERDICT Seelig-Brown’s new book offers interesting meal ideas that meet American Diabetes Association standards but does not explain how to achieve the titular “healthy home.”

Webb, Robyn. The Smart Shopper Diabetes Cookbook: Strategies for Stress-Free Meals from the Deli Counter, Freezer, Salad Bar, and Grocery Shelves. American Diabetes Assn. 2013. 160p. photos. index. ISBN 9781580404945. pap. $18.95. COOKING

Cookbook author and nutritionist Webb (Diabetic Meals in 30 Minutes—or Less!) believes strategic shopping can ease the stress of daily cooking and meal planning. After introducing how to navigate a grocery store and interpret food labels, she shares recipes made with convenience foods from four grocery “zones” (deli counter, salad bar, freezer, and shelves). Black and white bean salad, salad bar pizza, mushroom polenta, and other dishes incorporate canned, packaged, and frozen ingredients (many low-fat, low-sodium, or sugar-free). Some of these products can vary in salt and sugar content, so readers should read labels carefully. ­VERDICT Easy preparations, a readable layout, and a convenient “Fast & Fabulous Meal Planner” make this a good choice for busy readers with limited access to specialty ingredients.

redstar Wright, Hillary. The Prediabetes Diet Plan: How To Reverse Prediabetes and Prevent Diabetes Through Healthy Eating and Exercise. Ten Speed: Crown. Nov. 2013. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781607744627. pap. $15.99. HEALTH

According to registered dietician Wright (The PCOS Diet Plan), type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but prediabetes—a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes—can be reversed. In this diet-planning guide, she clearly explains how even small diet and lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Armed with compelling statistics, results from research studies, and intelligible medical information, Wright presents two ways to manage carbohydrate intake: a “balanced plate” approach that’s visually reminiscent of the USDA’s MyPlate ( and a more structured carbohydrate counting method based on the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Exchange Lists for Meal Planning. She also offers weight-loss strategies, tips on managing emotions, comparisons of other diets (e.g., DASH, Atkins), and tools such as sample meal plans and a food-journal template. VERDICT This excellent introduction for readers recently diagnosed with (or at risk for) prediabetes will also interest readers with other forms of insulin resistance.