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Dr. Alan L. Rubin on Diabetes
Alan L. Rubin, M.D. is an endocrinologist and the author of Diabetes For Dummies, Diabetes Cookbook For Dummies and Type 1 Diabetes For Dummies, among several other books. Diabetes For Dummies, now in a third edition, is the bestselling diabetes book for the non-physician in the United States. Here, Rubin explains the large role healthy food choices play in the management of diabetes.
What are some dietary changes diabetics need to focus on from the get-go?
The first 30 days involves making big changes in your lifestyle. If you have been eating an unhealthy diet, you know you have to focus on eliminating salt and foods that are high in fat. Even if you don’t lose a pound—you will, inevitably—the result is going to be a big improvement in your diabetes. A diet that will allow you still to enjoy the things that you enjoy, but in smaller portions and with less salt. This is a key change for people with diabetes.
What do you say to diabetics who lament about having such a restricted diet?
My argument against patients who say they cannot eat anything: Not true. In Diabetes For Dummies, I wanted people with diabetes to realize that they can still eat really delicious food while having diabetes. So, I went to 10 of the best restaurants in the United States and asked chefs for recipes. I was amazed by how many people said, “sure! I have a mother with diabetes or I have diabetes.” They were always more than willing to share these recipes. I simplified the recipes—took out some of the fat and salt, for example—and then consulted with the chef. I did that for all of the recipes and all the pros were satisfied. So, anyone who says you can’t eat good food because you have diabetes has not really looked out there. This approach was so popular that it led to Diabetes Cookbook For Dummies, where I have more than 30 great restaurants providing wonderful recipes.
What other tips do you have for the newly-diagnosed diabetic?
Education is key. Find out what you need to know about diabetes, and the complications, like heart disease or eye problems, that sometimes come with the disease. Once you have gotten over the trauma of having this disease, you want to start learning. Newly diagnosed people with diabetes may also want to take a course. Education is very important to taking control of your diabetes in the first 30 days.
Are there forbidden foods?
The truth is, as you would realize from reading my diabetes books, nothing is forbidden in the diet of a person with diabetes so long as the total daily calories are not excessive. Certain foods, those that contain a lot of sugar, will raise the blood glucose more than others, so you don’t want to overdo those, but a small piece of cake, a chocolate or a little ice cream is permitted as long as you don’t overdo it.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
Change is normal, natural and inevitable. It opens us up to new directions and new experiences. We should embrace change, not avoid it. We and the world change every day. It is our response to change that defines us.
The best thing about change is…
...the opportunity to have new experiences, some of which we probably would just as soon not have had, like the death of a loved one. But even death is part of all of us. The loss of others prepares us for our own death. If not for change, life would be boring indeed.
What is the best change you have ever made?
I have made so many changes in my life that it is hard to select the best, but one of the best was becoming an endocrinologist rather than a kidney specialist. The result was the opportunity to write my five books, which have been read by more than a million people. The positive feedback that I get in the form of patients who want to see me and emails from all over the world is priceless. In 35 years of medical practice, I might be able to help a few thousand people, but this has given me the chance to help millions.
For more information about Dr. Alan L. Rubin, visit www.drrubin.com.