The 10 Best Cookbooks for People with Diabetes, According to a Dietitian
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10 years ago, one of my biggest concerns was how to adjust my cooking practices to fit my new medically required lower-carb lifestyle. As a passionate home cook, I often relied on easy carbs like pasta and rice to be the basis for meals, so I knew I was going to have to turn my daily cooking practice on its head, but I also knew that I was going to need to expand my cookbook shelves to accommodate some specialty titles.
Cooking as someone with diabetes, or for someone with diabetes, means paying attention to both the types of carbs and the volume. While there's no one-size-fits-all plan, most people with diabetes generally want to limit their carbs at each meal (you can find out more about how many carbs you should be eating at each meal here).
Additionally, your blood sugar is less likely to spike if you eat small meals more frequently, as opposed to larger meals with big time gaps between them. The types of carbs you eat are also important, since high-glycemic carbs like refined sugar or processed foods can spike your sugars more than minimally processed carbs (like whole grains) and foods with natural sugars that also have fiber (like fresh fruit).
When it comes to buying and recommending cookbooks for people with diabetes, Joanna Schiferl, RDN, who specializes in diabetes, says she has a few criteria for how she recommends books to patients.
"My main criteria in what I recommend are: what skill set does my patient have, how many people are they cooking for, how adventurous of an eater are they, what is their socioeconomic status and do they cook for pleasure?" says Schiferl.
The reasons are obvious: If a patient is a skilled cook, then often Schiferl can recommend techniques and tricks to simply adapt recipes out of their current collection of books. If they are cooking for a family, then she needs to recommend the types of meals that the whole family can enjoy. Adventurous eaters and passionate cooks can explore some of the naturally low-carb cooking of many different cultures, as well as taking on more complicated cooking like maintaining a sourdough starter to make their own lower-glycemic breads. And obviously, anyone who is food-insecure or on a very tight budget needs recipes with simple, easily accessible and affordable ingredients.
Best Cookbooks for People with Diabetes
Here are some of the books that have been useful in my cooking that are not specifically diabetes-focused, but have a lot of delicious recipes that are naturally low-carb.
Everyday Dorie by Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the queen of simple comfort food, and this cookbook has lots of lower-carb recipes that will make it into your regular rotation. Her tomato-stuffed peppers are a dream for people with diabetes.
Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi
This book is wonderful, since in much Indian cuisine the dishes are designed to be served with rice or breads, and so in and of themselves are actually naturally low-carb. For a lower-carb, higher-fiber version, you can serve these mains with cauliflower rice, brown rice or another whole grain, like quinoa.
Plenty and Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is famous for doing a lot of vegetable-forward and simple protein-based dishes which have so much flavor they are real crowd-pleasers. Veggies are naturally anti-inflammatory foods that are packed with fiber and nutrients, and this cookbook will help you make them even more delicious and easy to eat.
Bottom of the Pot by Naz Deravian
This cookbook is full of terrific Persian recipes, many of which are naturally low-carb. From flavorful salads to veggie-packed dips to spiced stews, this cookbook will bring major flavor to your kitchen.
For diabetes-specific books, Schiferl recommends the following titles, all of which have something for everyone, and all of which can be purchased on Amazon or at your favorite local independent bookseller. They are a great start to a diabetes-friendly cookbook collection, and cooking out of any of them will build your confidence in adapting other recipes from other sources. She also likes the Diabetes Food Hub from the American Diabetes Association for online recipe ideas. Our Healthy Diabetes-Friendly Recipes are another great place to get meal inspiration.
Easy Low-Carb Cookbook by Wendy Polisi
From almond-flour pancakes to steak with herb butter, this cookbook will help you cut carbs without sacrificing flavor.
The 5-Ingredient Low-Carb Diet Cookbook by Bek Davis
Keep things simple and healthy with this diabetes-friendly cookbook. Each of these 100-plus recipes uses five ingredients or less for convenient, uncomplicated meals at home.
1,001 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender
Whether you're looking for a lower-sugar version of your favorite coffee drink or a healthy dish that'll still impress your dinner guests, this book has the perfect recipe for you.
The Complete Low-Carb Cookbook by George Stella
All of the 130-plus recipes in this cookbook were made without any wheat or added sugar, so they're perfect for anyone avoiding gluten or trying to cut back on carbs.
Diabetes Meals by the Plate by Diabetic Living Editors
Our sister brand, LivingWell with Diabetes (formerly known as Diabetic Living), came up with this cookbook that features over 90 delicious meal ideas that are all under 500 calories. You don't have to measure out portions or count carbs—this cookbook does it all for you!
The Clean and Simple Diabetes Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
This cookbook from the American Diabetes Association uses whole ingredients to help you come up with lower-carb meals at home that are fresh and flavorful. Bonus: It also comes with grocery shopping and meal-planning guides to help you get started on your healthy eating journey.