So, you have diabetes and have been told you need to make some changes to the way you eat and cook. Don't throw out those old cookbooks or tattered-edged recipe cards just yet! You can still prepare many of the recipes you've always loved - you'll just have to tweak them to make them healthier.

Diabetes diets and meal plans will vary from person to person, but in most cases someone with diabetes will need to alter their intake of a few key things: carbohydrates (including fibre), fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

And "alter" doesn't always mean you have to "reduce" or "eliminate" delicious flavours. It could also mean that you'll need to "add" or "substitute" certain ingredients. Take a look at your favourite recipes and get creative! Find ways to adjust to your body's changing needs without sacrificing flavour. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use artificial sweetener or natural sugar alternatives to either completely replace sugar or to substitute for a portion of a recipe's sugar content. Experiment with different types of sugar substitutes to test results. Some will work better for baking than others, and some blend well into liquids.
     
  • Most people with diabetes need to boost their fibre intake. Add more fibre to your recipes by switching out refined white flour for whole wheat flour. As with sugar, you can completely replace refined flour with whole wheat flour or use half of one and half of the other.
     
  • Oats are a versatile and helpful cooking staple for people with diabetes. Sprinkle oats atop muffins and cupcakes for a crunchy texture, or add oats to cookie dough. Stir oats into stews and soups and into the mixes for meatloaf, fish cakes, and veggie or turkey burgers. Oats help to both bulk up a recipe's fibre content and lower your cholesterol.
     
  • Prepare more and smaller portions of recipes containing sugar. You will get more servings out of your recipe, but the food will be in smaller, less sugary portions. Each portion will therefore have fewer carbohydrates.
     
  • When a recipe calls for dairy, select a low- or no-fat milk or yogurt without added sugar. Or you can switch cow's milk for soy milk.
     
  • Use cooking oils containing fats that have a positive or neutral effect on your health, including monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats. These fats can improve cholesterol levels without sacrificing flavour. Minimize use of butter, margarine, shortening, or lard. In baked goods, switch out oil for healthier pureed fruit, like bananas or applesauce.
     
  • Cook in ways that do not boost fat content, opting to grill, braise, broil, bake, poach, or steam instead of frying. Skim the fat off of soups, stews, and chilli, and trim the fat off of cuts of meat. Place meat on a rack while broiling, roasting, or baking so fat will drain.
     
  • Set aside the salt shaker to make room for other herbs and spices. Make your own sauces, dressings, rubs, and marinades, so you can control the amount of salt you add. If you choose a store-bought product, check the labels and shrink your portions to a reasonable amount of sodium. Canned beans and vegetables should be drained and rinsed to remove some of the added salt used as preservatives.
     
  • Select lean meats. For recipes that call for beef, choose the round, chuck, sirloin, or loin. Ground beef should be lean or extra lean. In pork recipes, go for the tenderloin or loin chop.
     
  • In recipes that call for eggs, use the whites instead of the yolk. Or try cooking with cholesterol-free egg substitutes.