A Reason to Celebrate
As with many families, our get-togethers always include food. In fact, most of the time they include so much food that there is no room at the main table for the people. We set up other tables to accommodate the overflow.
After the meal is over and everyone is almost too full to take another bite, it's time for dessert. That's when the fun begins—but it's also when my uncle used to have to leave. Our desserts are as copious as our meals, but after being "good" throughout dinner, watching his sugar intake because of his type 2 diabetes, Uncle Arlis found it unbearable to watch everyone chow down on a feast of sweets.
Then came the family gathering last summer. Uncle Arlis was nowhere to be found. Maybe he was just running late, we surmised. We tried calling him, but the phone just rang and rang. After the second or third call, he finally picked up.
"I don't think I can make it," he told my mom over the phone. Then, after a pause, "You know, there's always so much good stuff that I can't eat."
Uncle Arlis is the only one in the family who has diabetes. It wasn't something that any of us had ever thought too much about. However, our mother (and head chef) wasn't about to let him miss any family gatherings—or go hungry. So Mom started searching through magazines, talking to friends, and trying out new recipes.
Before too long, she had quite a menu to choose from. She tested everything on willing subjects before preparing the foods for the main gathering. If a dish seemed healthy, but tasted like cardboard, it was out. One of our favorite dishes had a bunch of fluffy stuff in Jello and fruit. Now the whole family knows to ask for "the fruit stuff."
At the last birthday bash, once the cake was served and the candles were lit, we all started singing our off-key version of "Happy Birthday." And there behind his granddaughter, and just as off-key as the rest of us, was Uncle Arlis. He looked at the cake as she blew out the candles, and he smiled. As the slices were passed out and the icing was being licked from the forks, Mom handed him his own small cake, one suited for his needs—and just as delicious.
Lately, many of us have been trying out our own low-carb concoctions. We have been successful at finding many new recipes. Desserts aren't the only avenue we've explored. Dinner entrees, lunch dishes, and breakfast items have been popping up in our kitchens. We all started eating healthier at home as well as at our family parties.
It doesn't matter how many family members are at our gatherings. If only one person who could have been there isn't, then that's one person too few. Now, eating healthy doesn't keep us apart—it brings us together.
Dave Noe lives near Kansas City, Mo. with wife Bobbie Jo, and daughters Sarah and Kelsey.
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