Best Diabetic Cookbooks

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
421 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best diabetic cookbooks

Last Updated October 2020

Most of us know our health would improve if we ate more balanced, home-cooked meals. But when you have diabetes, positive dietary decisions must be more than wishful thinking. Diabetic cookbooks simplify meal planning for individuals who live with diabetes. They eliminate the guesswork, so you can focus on cooking instead of research. These compilations put tried-and-true recipes at your fingertips, so there’s less temptation to stray. 

Diabetes is a condition that impacts the way the body metabolizes sugar. It takes different forms, but all leave too much glucose in the blood. Over time, this excess sugar damages  blood vessels and causes other complications. It’s common to manage diabetes with insulin injections, to make up for what the pancreas doesn’t produce. But many people choose to lower their blood sugar through exercise and diet, with the help of a diabetic cookbook.

Personal taste is a key factor in choosing a cookbook. Do you need an anthology of quick meals or classic crowd-pleasers? Are you the grill king, or is your slow cooker your best friend? Choosing the right cookbook with recipes you’ll want to eat can factor into your success. Read on to learn more and see some of our favorites.

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes.

Key considerations

Cooking experience

Do you know the difference between a sauté and a soufflé? What about a paring knife and a carving knife? If not, it might be wise to shop for a cookbook with simple recipes. Look for titles including keywords like “easy,” “quick,” “five-ingredient” or similar terms.  Beginning cooks have enough of a learning curve. It’s unrealistic to expect them to get a handle on diabetes and master complex points of food preparation at the same time.

Advanced cooks, on the other hand, may be used to more complex flavors and find simpler recipes too bland. Those who have mastered the basics are better prepared to make more challenging dishes. Enjoying intriguing flavors and textures may help you stick to your diet, too. 

Meal size

Do you typically dine alone or set a table for two? Does your dish need to feed a whole family? Preparing large, diabetic-friendly meals can be challenging, since budget-stretching, starchy ingredients like potatoes, bread, and rice are largely off-limits. Cookbooks that teach the tricks of the trade in this area are worth their weight in gold.

Teaches proper portioning

Published by Better Homes and Gardens, this book adopts a unique approach that’s much less tedious than other methods. The plate-filling approach helps you learn correct portioning of protein and non-starchy veggies, as well as healthy grains and starches. Each of its 90 complete meals includes 500 calories or fewer. Customers say it’s hard to tell what’s better, the book’s amazing graphics or the recipes’ appealing flavors. It comes in both paperback and e-reader editions.

Convenience

Electric pressure cookers have taken the world by storm in recent years. Others say they can’t live without their slow cooker, air fryer, or other time-saving kitchen gadgets. If you have a tool you already love, it makes sense to look for a cookbook that’s compatible rather than starting over. Trying to master a new device and a new diet may feel too overwhelming.

Popular diets

New popular diets emerge every year. Most target quick weight loss rather than health goals, but they can still be powerful tools in the type 2 diabetic’s arsenal. Your pancreas is better able to keep up with your body’s insulin needs as your weight drops. Some individuals lose enough weight to keep their blood sugar levels regulated without insulin. If you go this route, make sure you pick a diet you can live with. Putting weight back on reverses your progress and wastes all your hard work. It’s wise to consult your doctor before making any major dietary changes, but some popular diet options include the following:

Paleo: The paleo diet is low in carbohydrates and eliminates modern processed foods, so many dieters experience weight loss. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are staples of this diet, which claims to return to foods humans would have consumed during the Paleolithic, or early Stone Age. Some experts say the paleo diet is good for diabetics; others say it’s a neutral option. 

Keto: The keto diet is also low carb, so it may be good for cutting blood sugar levels. Many adherents believe the diet affects how the body uses and stores energy. However, the ketogenic diet does involve high consumption of heart-healthy fats, which presents other risks.  

Whole30: Most consider Whole30 to be more of a dietary reset than a long-term eating plan. Many lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels on this diet, which eliminates foods like dairy, legumes, and grains. Whole30 includes foods that can help diabetics and teach them to pay attention to their diet and their body’s reactions, but it’s highly restrictive and cuts out some food groups beneficial to diabetics.

DID YOU KNOW?

Diabetes that isn’t well controlled can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, amputations, and other serious consequences.

Features

Format

Today, cookbooks are available in more formats than ever. The best format is the one you’ll use, so pick whichever is most practical for your lifestyle.

Paperbacks: These typically aren’t expensive, so they’re a budget-friendly option if you’re lukewarm on the contents. Most don’t stay open on a kitchen counter long without bending, and they’re vulnerable to drips and spills.

Hardcovers: These cookbooks stay open more easily on a counter than their paperback counterparts, but their pages are just as vulnerable to spattering sauces.

Spiral-bound: These cookbooks are pricier, but they’re worth the investment for a volume you know you’ll love. They usually stay open more easily on a counter, so you’re not constantly fighting to find your recipe. Most have reinforced, plasticized pages, so they hold up better to kitchen accidents.

Electronic: These cookbooks are often cheaper than any other option because they don’t require any material resources from the publisher. They’re extremely portable, making it easier to stick to your diet when you travel. But it’s easy to lose your place if you’re toggling between screens, and use requires your device to be charged.

A truly comprehensive compilation

There’s a reason America’s Test Kitchen titled this book “complete”: it includes more than 400 taste-tested recipes. Offerings cover everything from breakfast and lunch to meals and desserts to impress a crowd. Easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos set you up for success. Readers praise its wide variety of offerings that please even the non-diabetics around the table.

Dietary preferences

Foods: Embracing a diabetic-friendly diet is a big change, but that doesn’t mean you have to ditch all your favorites foods. Many cookbooks offer low-sugar, low-carb twists on comfort foods, classic holiday favorites, exotic Asian flavors, and more. It’s good to branch out, but too much change all at once can leave you discouraged and throw you off track.

Meals: Many cookbooks focus on dinner, but there are three meals in the day. Many find breakfast, with its carb-laden cereals and pastries, to be the biggest challenge. Many dieticians say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t ignore it — or lunch either.

Illustrations

Pictures can make or break a cookbook. Often, it’s the intriguing illustrations that catch our attention instead of the black-and-white ingredients list. If you’re highly visual, or you need a little extra motivation, look for quality books with artistic illustrations that help you picture the end product of your work.

EXPERT TIP

Fruit-flavored yogurt can spike your blood sugar, but plain yogurt is an easy, quick breakfast option for diabetics.


Staff  | BestReviews

Diabetic cookbook prices

Inexpensive: You can get quality diabetic cookbooks full of tried-and true recipes starting between $8 and $15. In this price range, you’ll find both paperback books and electronic compilations of diabetes-friendly recipes. Most, if not all, recipes focus on dinner.

Mid-range: The next tier of diabetic cookbooks runs $15 to $20. Paperbacks and hardcovers can be found in this price range, but most are spiral-bound. These books should include a couple hundred recipes, with more options for meals other than dinner.

Expensive: The priciest diabetic cookbooks cost $20 to $30. If you’re paying this much, you should be getting a weighty, spiral-bound tome. It should have hundreds of well-illustrated recipes that fit the bill for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

DID YOU KNOW?

At least a million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Tips

  • Adjust meals for others. If you need to stretch your dinners to feed a crowd, you can always prepare potatoes, rice, or bread on the side. Just be prepared to abstain or eat in moderation.
  • Try Mediterranean. While there’s no specific list, many experts say that eating foods native to many Mediterranean countries is excellent for diabetics. 

Other products we considered

There are plenty of diabetic cookbooks out there, so if you don’t see one you like in our matrix, we have a couple more for you. If your electric pressure cooker is your best friend, you’ll want to get the Type 2 Diabetes Instant Pot Cookbook. Available in paperback and for e-readers, this compilation is praised for both its variety and its simplicity.

Those who are new to the diabetes world can get up to speed with the Diabetic Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed. It boasts more than 100 recipes to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with options for quick meals, five-ingredient plates, and even gluten-free fare.

Normal fasting blood glucose levels range from 70 to 99 milligrams. Pre-diabetic blood glucose levels are classified as 100 to 125 milligrams. If your fasting blood glucose level is above 126 milligrams, you are considered diabetic.

FAQ

Q. Are diabetic cookbooks for type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
A.
A diabetic-friendly diet can benefit both. Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed during childhood, can’t be managed by diet alone, since the pancreas chronically produces little to no insulin. Dietary choices can’t reverse type 1 diabetes, but they can still impact your health. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to metabolize sugar. While blood vessel damage from type 2 diabetes can’t be undone, it’s possible to achieve normal blood sugar levels by dietary means through ongoing, consistent effort.
 

Q. What foods should people with diabetes avoid?
A.
Refined foods like white bread, pasta, white rice, and many breakfast cereals can wreak havoc on a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. Even more natural options like potatoes, dried fruit, and fruit juice are generally off-limits. You should skip sugary sodas and flavored caffeinated drinks, too. Other limitations are harder to define. Diabetic cookbooks do the hard work for you, so that you can make the most of your time cooking rather than researching the ins and outs of each ingredient.
 

Q. My doctor says I have prediabetes. Can a cookbook help?
A.
Yes! Changes to your lifestyle can keep your condition from turning into diabetes. Eating meals like those included in a diabetic cookbook, as well as exercising regularly, are excellent ways to ward off the disease. Prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms, but you may be at risk if you have an immediate relative with diabetes, if you’re overweight, if you have high blood pressure, or if you are female and have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. 

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold Carreiro
    Arnold Carreiro
    Writer
  • Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Editor
  • Ciera Pasturel
    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin Yarbrough
    Kristin Yarbrough
    Writer
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer

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