Recipes for success.

Recipes for success.

It's time to debunk, once and for all, the myth of the "diabetic diet." If you have diabetes or if you want to avoid getting it, you don't have to eat special foods, and you don't have to be excluded from what "everyone else" is eating. The truth is, everyone else should be taking their cue from what's on your plate.

Eating well, from a diabetes perspective, means:

* selecting a variety of foods in sensible portions

* considering no food either a magic bullet or a forbidden fruit

* choosing whole foods over processed ones as often as possible

* embracing plant foods like vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains

* including low-fat dairy products, fish and shellfish, lean meats and poultry, with optional lean red meat and sweet treats in moderation

* relying on seasoning and cooking dishes with olive oil and the other "good fats" that make food tastier and more satisfying, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on saturated fat and trans fat.

But most of all, eating well means eating with pleasure-in a relaxed and friendly environment whenever possible. As delicious as that way of eating sounds, it is also one of the most powerful weapons in the diabetes-fighting arsenal. Eating wisely and well can help bring diabetes under control, even as effectively as diabetes drugs. That's why eating guidelines are an essential part-and occasionally, the only part-of any initial diabetes treatment plan.

As the recipes designated for diabetes illustrate, enlightened cooks concerned about diabetes can serve dishes their friends and anyone in their family will wholeheartedly enjoy, dishes they can bring to potluck dinners and present with confidence at holiday celebrations. Today, anyone expecting strict rules and special meals for a "diabetic diet" will be disappointed-then delighted. Enjoy every bite.