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Baking Adventures with Type 2 Diabetes

Baking is one of the great joys in life.

There’s something satisfying about starting with a pile of dry powders, cups filled with wet liquids, teaspoons of spice, and ending up with a warm loaf. The whir of the mixer fills the heart with anticipation. Warmth radiates from the oven. Enticing aromas fill the house. And at the end seeing a beautifully decorated cake or an intricately woven pie crust delights the eye—creating feelings of joy, relaxation, and achievement.

It’s no wonder baking is more popular than ever. Hobby bakers share their creations online tagged as #BakingAdventures. Some people turn to baking for relaxation and stress relief tagging their creations #BakingTherapy. And those who simply can’t help but bake use the tag #BakersGonnaBake.

But baked goods can have a serious downside for people with type 2 diabetes. Generally, baked goods are sugar-laden and carbohydrate-heavy, making them decidedly diabetes unfriendly.

How do you bake for type 2 diabetes?

Should people with type 2 diabetes avoid baking? Maybe. Maybe not. As with many things in life, there’s more than one way to approach baking. If you're interested in baking there’s likely an approach that can fit into your diabetes self-care routine without sacrificing your blood glucose management.

Traditional bakes

Traditional bakes use traditional recipes and baking methods. These produce the cakes, pies, and cookies you remember your mother or grandmother making. They’re familiar and can bring back memories of celebrations or gathering around the kitchen table for a tall glass of milk and a treat. But the sugar grams and carb counts tend to be high and not blood glucose friendly.

How to manage traditional bakes with type 2 diabetes on board?

First of all, nowhere is it written that you have to eat what you bake. Many people make their bakes with other people in mind. They bake for celebrations or on special occasions. They bring their bakes to the office, community meetings, or bake sales. The enjoyment is in the process of baking and in knowing that other people enjoy what they’ve made, rather than in the eating.

Also, nowhere is it written that you can’t ever eat a traditional bake. The key is to limit the portion and know how your body will respond. Being choosy about how much and when you eat is the key to enjoying baked goods while still actively managing your blood glucose levels.

Modified bakes

With modified bakes, the ingredients, and sometimes the methods, are altered. Ingredients can be eliminated or swapped out for others. The aim is to end up with a bake that has a lighter carb load than a traditional bake.

Alternative flours, like almond flour or coconut flour, are used. Alternative sweeteners, like Stevia and erythritol, are used as replacements for sugar (white, brown, powdered, etc.). Dark chocolate (with 70% or higher cocoa solids) and cocoa powder replace milk and white chocolate. Fruit and vegetable purees, like pears and pumpkin, are sometimes used to bolster flavor and sweetness.

Together this modified ingredient list results in baked goods that have fewer carbohydrates than traditional bakes. But these modified bakes are not sugar-free, carb-free, or calorie-free. Anyone eating these bakes still needs to be mindful of their impact on blood glucose levels.

Baking for the process

Not everyone who bakes ends up eating what they make. They find satisfaction in the process itself. For some people the act of baking is meditative. Their focus is on working through the instructions. Their effort is aimed at mixing and preparing the ingredients properly so that they get the expected result. While they measure, mix, and bake all other thoughts and concerns fall away. In this way, baking becomes a stress reliever. Often these bakers give their bakes away, satisfied that others are enjoying the results of their baking efforts.

Baking for the result

Still, others bake as a creative outlet. Some of these bakers find originality and inventiveness in their baking creations. Others are inspired to produce beauty in the form of decorated cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, or intricately woven pie crusts. The resulting baked goods look like pieces of art, providing a feast for the eye, if not the stomach. Some of these bakes are used solely for decoration.

What kind of type 2 diabetes baker are you?

There’s more than one way to go on a baking adventure. While eating endless amounts of baked goods isn’t healthy for anyone, options are available that make it easier to produce a good bake and still actively manage blood glucose levels.

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