La Jollan pens cookbook for diabetes patients

Laurie Block, author of ‘The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook’

While called “The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook,” La Jolla resident Laurie Block’s recently penned work is more of a guidebook into the world of Type 1 Diabetes (previously known as Juvenile Diabetes), which affects approximately 1.25 million people in the United States.

It includes information about Type 1 Diabetes and insulin, a blood sugar tutorial, resources for caregivers, ways to adjust one’s diet based on age and activity level, food swaps, dozens of recipes, the role of carbohydrates, and more.

“The recipes tend to be low in carbohydrates as a base, because there is a lot of new evidence that diabetes is a little easier to manage with a low-carb approach, compared to many years ago, when professionals would have recommended more,” Block said. “You cannot live without carbohydrates, but they need to be healthy carbohydrates — like whole grains — which are especially important for children who need carbohydrates to grow. The recipes are also very much geared toward adding carbohydrates to them. They use common ingredients, easy-to-find products and anyone can make the dishes easily. The book provides an explanation to caregivers and families about the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.”

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the body produces little to none of the hormone insulin, and is believed to be a combination of genetics and environmental factors, according to the book. Without insulin, the body is unable to digest glucose into the cells to provide energy. As such, those with Type 1 Diabetes have to manage their condition by adding external insulin with an injection or a pump.

Block added it is also recommended that individuals who require insulin monitor glucose levels with a glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitoring device, exercise, eat healthy, become aware of how they distribute carbohydrates, and manage stress. (With Type 2 Diabetes, an individual produces some insulin, and the condition is often more gradual in onset and managed with diet, lifestyle, non-insulin injectable and/or oral agents.)

Once thought to be caused by eating too much sugar or having made poor food choices, Block said: “The evidence clearly states that this is not the case. I would even add if you have Type 1 Diabetes you can eat sugar in limited amounts. The key is to understand your total carbohydrate intake and be able to match how much insulin you need. It may be helpful to have less sugar after being diagnosed but it is not the reason your body stopped producing insulin! Meeting with a registered dietitian/diabetes educator can be extremely beneficial to help clear up the many myths about how diet effects blood sugar.”

Block said she received her undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Nutrition, while studying cooking at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York City.

“In the early days of my education, I studied with some doctors at Mount Sinai Medical School, and they were interested in prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes as it was related to obesity,” she said. “When working in the hospital, I met many young children and adults who had uncontrolled blood sugars or had recently been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The diagnosis was often such a surprise them, and that really motivated me to better understand how food and diet impacted blood sugars. Yet, what inspires me most, is the strength and courage of anyone diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I have learned through them the definition of overcoming obstacles.”

After years as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Block said she was inspired to write “The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook” because, “I thought it was important to write in simple language how Type 1 diabetes is managed. It’s a complicated diagnosis, so the aim was to make life easier for kids, teens and adults living with diabetes and to provide information on how nutrition and lifestyle ideas can help manage blood sugars. I wanted both young and old alike, and caregivers to understand the many misconceptions around nutrition/diet and food choices.”

— “The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook” is available for $17.95 at Warwick’s and other booksellers.