Last updated: Apr 18, 2008

If you have diabetes, you'll need make an extra effort to find food with flavor, texture and flair that also fits in with your meal plan. In other words, food that's not boring.



Seveda Williams, 41, of Brooklyn, New York, makes conscious efforts to tame her food boredom. (Type 2 diabetes claimed the lives of her uncle, the singer Luther Vandross, and several other members of her family.)

"Instead of pining for what you can't have, up the ante on what you can have...there are over 1,000 seasonings, try lots of them. If your taste buds are excited, you won't get bored with the foods you have. You will replace them with something better for you."

Modify the recipes you love to fit your meal plan
Williams says she's tinkered with many recipes, for example, making lobster potato salad that has more lobster and fewer high-carbohydrate potatoes.

"Apples are fun," she says. "I love apple pie, but the high fat crust and sugar filling meant I could only have a sliver," says Williams.

After Williams was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 37 she cut out white bread, white sugar and white flour from her diet, because the have limited nutritional value. To take the place of apple pie, she now makes "the most incredible apple crisp."

"I add cinnamon, lemon juice and Splenda and, instead of crust, I take some wheat flour and add that to oatmeal and throw it in the oven. Girl, please! It is apple pie," she says.

Williams concocts recipes that fit in her plan, but take away her cravings for foods high in fat and sugar.

Check out new recipes in cookbooks and magazines
It can help to search for a variety of foods—different fruits and vegetables and different grains—as well as cookbooks and magazines that offer recipes geared toward people with diabetes, says LuAnn Berry, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"The other advantage to the cookbooks and magazine recipes," says Berry, "is that they will have appropriate serving sizes, and likely be lower in fat and sodium than other recipes might be."

People tend to eat the same foods all the time. Try not to get caught in a rut, she recommends.

Does your town have an Asian or organic market? Try out new vegetables and fruits and search out recipes to use them in online. Try different grains—or wild rice, that will help stave the boredom.

In fact, a shopping trip may be just what you need, says Nora Saul, a certified diabetes educator and a dietitian for the adult diabetes division at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston

Supermarkets such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods often have fruits, vegetables and crackers to taste (make sure you count up what you've eaten, or go at lunch time and make a meal of the tastes, plus a green salad and fat free dressing).

Or, go when you're not hungry, but feeling adventurous and spend some time looking at grains, fruits, even sushi to see what tastes satisfy your craving and your eating plan.

Plan meals and snacks ahead of time
"We recommend planning ahead—perhaps a week's worth of food and snacks—figuring out what you'll have and even doing most or all of the shopping before hand," says Berry, "That way, the thinking part is done, and when it's time to eat you can look at your list and eat the foods you've designated."

Williams plans her snacks, which consist of almonds with cashews and potato chips made from baked slices of sweet potatoes.

"It's my version of a Pringle and I'm not unhappy. That's key. I can't be unhappy," Williams said. "What we really want is flavor and texture. It's my right for it to be flavorful and fun."

Saul recommends a treat now and then—such as child size scoop of ice cream, or a single cookie as a reward for having stuck to a food plan. But you need to know yourself, says Saul. If you can't "eat just one," you might need other reward options, such as a shopping spree, massage or movie night with a friend.

Instead of ice cream, Williams has a low-calorie lemonade, fresh from the freezer so it's frosty and has the consistency of ice cream. Or she combines berries, a bit of heavy cream and a lot of ice.

"I tell myself this is ice cream, and I'm very happy," she says.