New Cookbook Acts as a “Survival Guide” with Focus on T1D Education and Diet

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By : Suvarna Sheth

In what might be a small, but sure way, Laurie Block, MS, RDN, CDE, is hoping to educate more people about Type 1 diabetes and nutrition with her new book, The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook. 

With much of the educational material for diabetes aimed at the Type 2 population, there’s often little information for those living with Type 1, whom according to the Center for Disease Control, account for just 5% of the diabetes population.

Block’s book has been in the making for the past 25 years, as long as she has been involved in helping individuals manage their diabetes.

“Early on, I recognized that there was not a lot of accessible reference materials for people with Type 1 diabetes and their families,” Block tells dLife in an exclusive interview.

The book is a basic and simplified evidenced-based education to the world of Type 1 diabetes– and a must-have for anyone recently diagnosed, including family members caring and preparing meals for anyone with the condition.

Block has over 30 years of experience working with individuals to conquer the nutritional challenges that come with having diabetes, at both large academic settings as well as in private practice.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics- Nutrition from Hunter College in New York City and received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition and Education from the Steinhardt School at New York University.

In addition to her clinical education, Block completed a Masters Cooking Program and has additional training from the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York City.

Laurie Block

Laurie Block, author of The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook.

In her book, Block ties together two of her greatest philosophies: Using scientific and evidenced-based nutrition to improve health, and developing easy to accomplish, life long eating habits for individual lifestyles.

The first 30 pages provide an excellent understanding of T1D diabetes management.

“In simple and easy to understand language, I was hoping that friends and family would learn the goals and reality of managing blood sugar on a daily basis,” Block says.

“Too often people try to give advice on alternative therapies and don’t understand the essential role insulin and diet play in management,” she adds.

The book also provides an opportunity for family and friends to openly communicate and have an educated and honest dialogue about diabetes.

“As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, I want to make it crystal clear that the management of Type 1 involves the need for insulin, an understanding of insulin action, the importance of blood sugar monitoring, and of course, an understanding of how food, nutrition, and exercise affect glucose levels,” she explains.

The book is designed to help the reader understand that Type 1 diabetes is not a result of eating too much sugar and cannot just be treated by starting an exercise program. But rather, that it’s a complicated diagnosis of an autoimmune disease that can occur at any age.

What’s Unique About the Book?

Block’s book is unique in that it’s not based on one person’s individual experience managing diabetes.

“I particularly like the idea that this book recognizes that each person taking insulin is different and that each insulin regimen varies,” Block explains. “It’s for this reason that the recipes are indexed by carbohydrate grams, rather than providing a structured meal plan.”

What Block really pushed for in creating the book is a section on carbohydrate counts of diverse foods, which can be found in a section after the recipes.

“There are just not enough resources on carbohydrates counts in foods from different regions and cultures in the world,” Block emphasizes.

What are the Best Features of the Book?

One of the best features of the book is that it’s full of useful information without being overwhelming.

“Young children, teens,  and the general public will really have much more insight into T1D after reading this book,” Block says. “There are lots of actionable ideas that can easily be implemented to help keep blood sugars in a healthy range.”

As for the impetus behind this book, Block says every single person she consulted in her 25+ years of clinical experience inspired her to write it.

“When someone gets a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes the individual and support systems are all overcome with so much fear,” says Block. “They are often overwhelmed with so much information and worry about how they are going to manage their daily life.”

Block says the least she could do was to make the initial diagnosis easier, suggest some healthy recipes, and have a guidebook so individuals can communicate with their health care team and understand some of the basic terminologies used when discussing blood sugar management.

What is the Main Concept Behind Each Recipe?

According to Block, the main concept behind the recipes in The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook was to keep the recipes user-friendly, incorporate healthy ingredients and develop recipes that contain less than 35 grams carbohydrate.

“Keeping the carbohydrate content at a minimum would allow for a low carbohydrate meal, which is consistent with some new evidence, or provide the option to add additional carbohydrates as needed,” Block says.

The recipes are simple and easy to prepare. They take 30 minutes or less and, as mentioned, use ingredients that have a nutrition purpose.

Also included are some lifestyle ideas that relate to general health such as the importance of stress management, glycemic index, exercise and how organic foods play a role in a healthy diet.

Tips on low glycemic carbohydrates and whole grains are also suggested throughout the book.

Do The Recipes Work for People with T2D?

The recipes in Block’s book are also good for people with Type 2 diabetes since they tend to be low carb, calorie-controlled, user-friendly and aim at being used for the entire family.

An important idea behind the book was to use ingredients that make sense nutritionally but also appeal to children, teens, and adults.

The nutrition information for each recipe is listed as well including carbohydrate, protein, fat, saturated fat, fiber, and sodium.

There are also indications if the recipes are suitable for those following alternative diets including nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free meal planning as well. 

Block views her book more like a “survival guide” focusing on the basics of understanding Type 1 diabetes and diet.

“In the future, I would love to create a more comprehensive guide that explores the behavioral component that keeps people internally motivated to make healthy food decisions 24/7,” Block says, “Helping people have less food anxiety and to enjoy meals is important.”

She also hopes to be more vocal about the prevalence and need for education throughout the world.

“There is a tremendous need to educate patients and health care providers in resource-poor countries,” Block says.

She is currently involved with an organization called Marjories Fund, which has a global mission to empower all people living with T1D to manage their condition and thrive.

You can try out a recipe from The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook, delicious Zoodles Carbonara here.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Images courtesy of The Type 1 Diabetes Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Balanced Meals and Healthy Living, by Laurie Block MS RDN CDE published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2018 by Callisto Media. All rights reserved.