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A recent question: potato and carrot dumpling,how would you make it diabetic frendly?

I don't think this is the first to ask for diabetic-friendly modifications to a recipe. Is this well-defined enough to answer as a cooking question, or is it effectively a health question since it asks us to judge what is or isn't diabetic-friendly?

Is there some "good" form we could rewrite diabetic-friendly food questions into that'd allow us to help people out?

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As somebody who has diabetic family members and has attended some lectures on the illness and its management: diabetes questions exhibit all the hallmarks of health questions which generate bad answers.

First, under ideal circumstances, people would know the current state of medical knowledge about diabetes management, and answer based on that. But the problem here is that there is no unified theory on what diet is suitable for diabetics. A generic "less sugar" is easy enough. But from then on, everything branches off. Should diabetics eat fructose? There is the theory that it is a great substitute for glucose, and the other theory which says that its metabolic pathway (triglycerides!) makes it more dangerous in the long term than the immediate effects of glucose on insulin production. Should diabetics reduce overall carbohydrates? Theory says yes, in reality it can lead to eating more fat, which again may or may not increase cardiovascular disease. And so on. There is no consensus on what diabetics should or should not eat.

Second, even though there is a handful of legit (but somewhat contradicting) theories about diabetic nutrition, most people simply don't know them. And when they do, they are likely to misunderstand and misapply them. They tend to doubt even some of the very basic facts, for example that, if you are using glycemic load, it matters a lot if you eat a cooked potato or first mash that potato and then eat it. This misunderstanding doesn't stop them from giving confidently-sounding answers based on hearsay, or from voting on answers which are written persuasively but contain huge flaws.

Third, although less concerning than the first two, such questions make rich breeding ground for crackpots. I think that our community would quickly shoot such answers down, should they appear, but it is a further irritant to be dealt with.

In short, I am against answering this type of question. A refusal to answer is unpleasant to the OP, but giving them convincingly sounding wrong advice is actually worse.


For the "how can we make them answerable" part, it is the same answer as for any other health question. If the OP already has a nutrition theory they like to follow, and ask us how to make the food comply to that theory using measurable criteria, that's OK. So, if the OP had asked "how do I reduce the total sum of starch and glucose in potato and carrot dumpling", that would have been OK. It might even have gotten the same answer as the now closed question. But the difference is that the OPs will have to know what their concrete goals are, as opposed to asking us to suggest something which is "good for them".

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I'm a Type 1 diabetic. I've had the disease for nearly 30 years, and I still struggle with what IS and IS NOT "good" for my diabetes. That said, a good generic answer is "Low Carb". Low Glycemic index is also good, but more difficult to ascertain for those who aren't familiar with the idea. By saying "Low Carb", you exclude/reduce starches and/or sugars. I say this because both potatoes and fructose affect my blood sugar badly. One is a starch and the other is supposedly a "safe" sugar for diabetics. All that aside, there are things that can affect blood sugars that most people wouldn't consider, such as food allergies. When I eat things that I'm allergic to, my histamine reaction sky rockets my blood sugars.

The point is that I don't think it's a safe idea to recommend different foods that are more "Diabetic friendly". The term is too loose, and there are too many other factors involved, which we can't possibly know. Does the question get rewritten?? No. Sorry. There are too many interpretations for what the user is asking.

There's a huge difference between following a diet because it fits with one's philosophy (veganism, Paleo) and following a diet because of health reasons.

  • Thanks for the perspective! I agree, these kinds of factors mean we can't rewrite people's questions for them - although if the OP really just cares about the generic low-carb thing, they could rewrite their own question. – Cascabel Sep 15 '16 at 20:26
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A diabetic tag might help with clearing some confusion, but that's just me. Also I was trying to get feelers for my recipe if you wanted to know. As to why I put this as a answer instead of a comment, I don't have enough reputation put comments everywhere yet.

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