What’s cooking with diabetes?

    That’s what 120 people from Ford County hoped to find out when they attended a recent free two-hour seminar at the Dodge City Senior Center.


What’s cooking with diabetes?
    That’s what 120 people from Ford County hoped to find out when they attended a recent free two-hour seminar at the Dodge City Senior Center.
    Participants were treated to healthy cooking tips for diabetics and samples of different recipes presented by Ethel Schneweis, Ford County Extension agent, and Annette Adelhardt, a diabetic educator from Pratt.
    The program was also offered in Spanish to another group of people, and all who attended both programs received packets containing recipes, hints for good health and education regarding diabetes.
    “We had the program here in Dodge City two years ago, and we were excited to have it back here again this year,” Schneweis said. “We gave everyone who attended three samples of food when they walked in the door, and more later during the program.”
    Participants sampled garden chili, cole slaw and fruit muffins, as well as fresh salsa with black beans and chewy oatmeal cookies.
    “We encourage people with diabetes to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and grains,” Schneweis said. “Diabetics should watch their portion sizes too. We use fake food on a nine-inch plate to show how it seems fuller than serving the same food on a larger plate.”
    Schneweis also urged diabetics to make wise food choices.
    “Learn more about nutrition labels,” she advised. “Some people never look at labels, but sugars are listed by different names on many products. One needs to be cautious about eating too much food with sugar alcohols.”
    Many sweets today contain low amounts of sugar because they are prepared with sugar replacers or sugar alcohols, which are neither sugar nor alcohol and are called polyols.
    Unlike sugar substitutes, which have no calories, sugar replacers provide reduced amounts of carbohydrates and calories compared to sugar.
    “Sugar replacers have about one-half to three-fourths the calories,” Schneweis said. “A newer type of sugar replacer, erythritol, may offer better potential for use by people with diabetes that other polyols. Erythritol does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.”
    Sugar substitutes include saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame-k (Sweet One), and aspartame and saccharin (Sugar Twin). All but aspartame are suggested for cooking, Schneweis said. 
    “Heat destroys aspartame after 15 minutes,” she explained.  “Aspartame is the only sugar substitute that has no bitter aftertaste.”
    Schneweis said she does not have diabetes, but she added, “I have family members who are diabetics. They actually have given me a lot of tips. "I’m not an expert on diabetes, and I don’t claim to be, but I give people nutritional information.”