We are in uncharted territory when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic!  The goal to “flatten the curve” on outbreaks of COVID-19 cases in the United States has caused national and local authorities to recommend shelter-in-place orders and social distancing. 

Many of us are at home with more free time at our disposal, maybe for the first time in our busy lives.  What a great opportunity to focus on your health, acquire new cooking skills and fine-tune your diabetes self-care!  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Read a great book on diabetes

A comprehensive reference book such as The American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes is a rich source of information on all aspects of self-care.  Visit the ADA’s website to browse all of their diabetes books and resources at www.shopdiabetes.org.

Find an informative and timely magazine geared to your needs

The Diabetes Self-Management magazine provides in-depth articles for people with diabetes trying to increase their knowledge and skills.  It’s not a “scratch-the- surface” magazine with simplistic articles, but provides depth and detail in a way that other magazines do not.  Visit www.diabetesselfmanagement.com for more information.

Research the latest on glucose monitoring

The US Food and Drug Administration has provided a nice website page on glucose monitoring (www.fda.gov/medical-devices/vitro-diagnostics/blood-glucose-monitoring-devices).   Home glucose monitoring is considered the second-best invention in caring for people with diabetes since the discovery of insulin.   But, it is only helpful if people know when to test, how to interpret the results, and how to modify behaviors in response.

Have you ever considered using a continuous glucose monitoring device?  Now would be the perfect time to learn more.  Here is a link to get you started:     https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/?s=review+of+CGM+devices

Experiment with scratch cooking

Scratch cooking is basically the way we prepared food before convenience items were available in the grocery store.  Your mother or grandmother may have had a cookbook titled “The Joy of Cooking,” which epitomizes the nature of scratch cooking.  Basically, we mean using fresh ingredients and turning them into delicious meals.  Scratch cooking can be personally rewarding, less expensive and often more nutritious.  

Discover the delicious flavor of soups make with homemade stock

There is simply no comparison between canned soup and homemade soup, and all good soups start with a quality stock (or broth).  There are many recipes on-line; here is one you could try: www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/homemade-chicken-broth/.   You may have heard of bone broth, a popular health food trend right now.  Bone broth is also a quality stock that can be use in any soup recipe instead of store-bought broth.  Find many more recipes and directions for stocks and bone broth on www.YouTube.com.  Once you have acquired this skill, you may find it easy to fit into your usual routine.

Try making homemade yogurt

Making yogurt is much easier than you may think.  Research on-line for recipes and step-by-step instructions.  I found a great resource at: www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-step-by-step-article.  Of course, you will want to avoid adding a lot of sugar, honey or syrup.  Simply sweeten with fresh fruit.   

The carbohydrate content of homemade yogurt can be significantly reduced by straining.  Directions: line a funnel with a coffee filter, place over a tall glass, add the yogurt and allow to rest in the refrigerator while the liquid whey drips into the glass.  The longer the yogurt rests, the thicker and lower in carbohydrates the yogurt will become.  Transfer the thickened and strained yogurt into a container for storage.

Search for new recipes

Search on-line for recipes that look healthy and delicious, then experiment!  The American Diabetes Association is a resource for healthy recipes for people with diabetes.  Visit www.diabetesfoodhub.org.  Each recipe is featured with a beautiful photograph and complete nutrition analysis.  The website allows you to save your favorites, plan meals and create grocery lists; while being free and user-friendly. 

Build menus to use when you get back to your usual routine

When we are busy, planning what to eat is often neglected.  Use your shelter-in-place time to plan menus, print your ideas, and post on the refrigerator. Use your home as a testing kitchen and collect family feedback.  A new publication titled Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook by Toby Amidor is rich with menu planning ideas and recipes (available at www.shopdiabetes.org).

Set the dinner table and enjoy a family meal

The family meal hour has nearly vanished.  Use your shelter-in-place time to return to the dinner table and share a meal.  People connect over food.  It’s a wonderful time to meet face-to-face and share our personal thoughts, feelings and ideas.

We all hope and pray that the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic soon and that we will have learned valuable lessons.  As we act responsibly to reduce exposure to our most vulnerable populations, let’s use our time at home for good.  Focus on your health, research more about your diabetes, develop valuable cooking skills and prepare menus.  Use this time wisely!