December 9, 2009

Great Gifts for People with Diabetes

I wrote a couple posts last year suggesting some diabetes-specific gift ideas and several of you wrote me that you found them helpful so I'm going to reprise the earlier suggestions and add a few more.

In the spirit of transparent disclosure, let me mention that some of these suggestions link to Amazon pages and if you visit Amazon using these links and buy things Amazon gives me 2-3% of the sale amount.

1. A Food Scale. I wrote a whole post about the power of the food scale to get your diet working again and fine tune insulin doses. You can read the whole post HERE

2. Pedometer, blood pressure meter, blood testing strips, etc. You can read more about all these gifts in this post HERE

3. Low Carb Treats. As most of you know, most of the products marketed as being "low carb" aren't, because they contain maltitol, lacitol, and other frankenfood ingredients which will, in fact, raise the blood sugar of anyone who does not have a very strong second phase insulin response. For this reason NEVER give a product labeled "sugar free" to someone with diabetes. They raise blood sugar and taste foul.

Fortunately, there are a couple low carb products that are truly low carb.

Here are some ideas:

a. DaVinci Sugar Free Syrups. These come in a multitude of flavors. They are sweetened with Splenda but have no additional sugars added the way that powdered forms of Splenda do. I use them as the sweetener when baking low carb treats like macaroons. I also use them when making low carb cocoa. One Tbs of syrup is the same as one Tbs of sugar when baking though you might bake recipes a bit longer to boil off the fluid. My favorite flavors are White Chocolate, German Chocolate, Caramel and Vanilla. One bottle lasts me a very long time and never goes bad.

b. Not Starch. This is a mixture of fibers that will thicken gravy or homemade ice cream very nicely. It gives a slippery mouth feel you will immediately recognize as it is used in so many frozen food and restaurant gravies.

c. Protein Powder. Look for one that has no more than 2 g of carbohydrate per serving. You can use these in shakes or you can bake a bewildering selection of low carb baked goods with these. Most include artificial sweeteners or stevia. I just bought a "Natural flavor" one that has no sweetener or flavor at all, which tastes just so-so but would be good for people who have concerns (whether or not justified) about artificial sweeteners.

d. High Quality Dark Chocolate. The higher the percentage of chocolate in a chocolate bar, the kinder it will be to your blood sugar. You can find many 70% and higher bars on the market today and if a person does not have problems with portion control they can make a very nice gift. Read the label and stick with chocolates that have no more than 6 grams per square if possible.

e. Gourmet Cheese. People have different tastes in cheese and some gourmet cheese has become very expensive in the U.S. because of our falling dollar, so find out what kind of cheese your favorite person with diabetes likes before investing. But if you know, you can't go wrong in buying them a premium cheese. I don't mail order these, however as I have yet to find a mail order company whose cheeses weren't filled with additives.

f. Steak. Low carb and delicious and available from mail order companies. Don't send mail order ribs or pork as they tend to arrive bathed in extremely sugary sauces.

g. Fancy Nut Assortments. Full of good fats and delicious. Don't give these to someone who is actively pursuing weight loss, though, as most of us have trouble eating "just one."

h. Gourmet Coffee. The very best coffee I have ever tasted is available by mail order from Dean's Beans. Dean is a real person who I've met. He is obsessive both about buying beans in ways that benefit the people who grow them and the enviornment and finding the most delicious beans available. My personal favorite is the "Half caf" blend which is 1/2 strength but richly flavored. I also like the "Rattlesnake Gutter" blend, named after a local ravine, and the "Liberation Decaf." Dean's baking cocoa makes extremely delicious cocoa when mixed with DaVinci syrup, half and half and boiling water.

i. Fancy Tea. You can find wonderful tea at Some of the fruit blends contain pieces of real fruit mixed with hibiscus, calendula, rose hips, and other herbs. They are delicious and I have not found that they raise my blood sugar. The Apricot and blood orange pear are my favorites. If you are on a budget, you can find many delicious teas in any large supermarket or health food store.

Please post your own gift suggestions for people with a diabetes in the comments!



Anna said...

Excellent suggestions. Regarding mail order steaks and meat - I've received gifts of frozen steaks and burgers from Omaha Steak co several times and wasn't impressed at all (no better than any steaks from a typical grocery store, which I also tend to think are only so-so). I'm particular about the meat my family eats; I seek to avoid grain-fed, CAFO, and inhumanely produced meat. I like to support smaller family operations. I also want good taste and excellent texture.

I do however, very much like the meat products from US Wellness Meats. The taste and quality is higher than Omaha or supermarket meat, and the animals are grass-fed and humanely raised. The cost can seem high compared to CAFO produced meat, but bigger orders (stock the freezer) get a discount, bringing the per pound cost down quite a bit. They also offer repeat customer discounts. I sometimes make an order with a neighbor to get the order high enough for a discount. I like their liverwurst especially.

Unknown said...

Private comment: Rattlesnake Gutter, a local ravine? Funny, my local Rattlesnake Gutter is in Leverett. I recently bought your 101 book and noticed the publisher is in Turners Falls. I live in Montague Center and I'm sensing that you live somewhere near in Western Mass! --Athena (diagnosed as "pre-diabetic" by the UMass Kinesiology Dept this Sept)

Jenny said...


I lived in Leverett for many years--until my last kid graduated high school. I live in Gill now. As you probably know, Gill and TF share a Post Office.

Venkat said...


Thanks for this post.

I have a question on this one. Please read this review and provide your comment.

It quotes Dr Steven Hunter as stating Low-carb, high-fat diets bad for heart and it increases risk for CVD.

I searched how he came to the conclusion but it lead to nowhere. I know you also would have come across this one. If you have time, would you comment on this one and have a separate blog post?

Thanks for your time.



Jenny said...


Dr. Hunter is citing out of date opinions not backed by current research. You can find links to much research backing the safety of the low carb diet for people with diabetes HERE