What's worse: Going to a Thanksgiving dinner where the hosts know you have diabetes, or going to one where they don't? I vote for the former, with regret. In theory, it could be wonderful to be the guest of someone who takes your dietary needs into consideration, but in my experience this too often results in such culinary travesties as "no-sugar-added bread" (inedible, but still filled with carbs, of course); fake chocolates (with serious indigestion in store for the unwary); or scary gelatin creations that defy explanation. A little knowledge is a scary (or at least annoying) thing. Upon ordering us a dessert of batter-fried bananas, a dear friend, realizing his mistake, proudly brushed off the outer coating of powdered sugar—as though that would make it all right. I wanted to scream "It's not just about sugar!" but I didn't have the heart to correct him.
It may seem churlish to complain when friends and family go out of their way to be helpful. And I try to use these occasions as opportunities to teach—gently—some diabetes basics. But the bottom line is that, when it comes to eating, we really need to take things into our own hands. As this month's Reflections author, Rachel Garlinghouse, writes in her essay about shoveling her snowed-in driveway (p. 100), we can't always expect others to do things for us, as much as we might like to.
I hope that this special food issue can help out in that respect. It's easy to make a turkey diabetes-friendly; I don't think I've eaten a piece of poultry skin for more than a decade, and I don't miss it. But sides and desserts require more ingenuity. That's why we're serving up 16 new recipes for dishes that you can make for your own table or bring to someone else's. We've taken as inspiration the specialties of American regional cooking, but you should feel free to mix and match (keeping an eye on how the carbs and fat add up, of course). And you can also feel free to let everyone know that these aren't "diabetic" dishes at all. They're just good food that happens to be healthy—and that in itself is cause for celebration.