The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute published Eat Well with Diabetes / Comer Bien con Diabetes, a bilingual cookbook, this June. The cookbook is full of recipes for low-carb dishes to promote a healthy but flavorful diet that at once combats and prevents diabetes for both children and adults.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, with approximately 17,000 diagnosed cases in the Santa Barbara area. Of the national number, seven million are undiagnosed.

According to Jenifer Gaffaney, coeditor of the new cookbook and director of the Department of Diabetes Education and Outreach at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, the number of individuals with type 2 diabetes has been increasing nationally as a result of “an obesogenic environment,” which is characterized by unhealthy food and decreased physical activity.

Eat Well With Diabetes / Comer Bien con Diabetes

Furthermore, explained Gaffaney, a genetic predisposition — which places certain ethnic groups at higher risk of contracting diabetes — also contributes to one’s likelihood of acquiring diabetes. But in the end, she said, “everyone is at risk.”

Gaffaney’s colleague Alison Okada Wollitzer, coeditor of the cookbook and director of Research Administration and Operations at the institute, explained that type 2 diabetes is typically associated with weight problems.

“We advise that [people] make their calories count by incorporating high fiber, good fats, and lean protein into their diets,” said Wollitzer.

Eating with diabetes is often perceived as difficult, but Gaffaney and Wollitzer are hopeful that this cookbook and other forms of diabetes education can change that view.

“We try to provide a positive outlook to those eating with diabetes,” Gaffaney said. “It’s not deprivation, but healthy eating.” All of the cookbook recipes have no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates, allowing individuals to combine several dishes together, instead of just having one dish, Gaffaney said. Additionally, nutritional information is provided for each recipe.

“Eating with diabetes requires adopting a healthy eating regimen; consisting of vegetables, whole grains, and protein. The most important thing is lower carb intake, or to replace these with healthier carbs, like whole grains,” Wollitzer said.

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute holds free diabetes education classes through the Santa Barbara Diabetes Initiative program that consist of cooking classes, individual advising, and other resources for members of the community with pre-diabetes and diabetes. The classes are intended to help individuals prevent other family members from acquiring diabetes.

The cookbook’s easy-to-prepare recipes — which editors Gaffaney and Wollitzer selected by clipping them from newspapers and testing them on clients and coworkers (among other methods) — enable children to involve themselves in choosing and preparing the vegetables, said Gaffaney.

So far, the cookbook has recieved a favorable public response. “People think it’s fantastic — the recipes, pictures, easy to find ingredients, and wide variety of food,” Wollitzer said.

The Sansum Diabetes Research Institute offers diabetes education classes in both Spanish and English, so it was only natural that the cookbook be bilingual as well, Gaffaney said.

Additionally, the cookbook recipes will be used as part of the diabetes education cooking demonstrations on the last Thursday of every month.

“We hope that the cookbook enables us to reach out to people beyond our classes and help people with diabetes get healthier,” Gaffaney said.

Eat Well with Diabetes / Comer Bien con Diabetes is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Chaucer’s Books, The Book Den, and The Curious Cup. The Curious Cup in Carpinteria will also host a book signing and “Meet the Experts” event Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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