Cooking Tips From the Diabetic Chef, Chris Smith

Chef Chris Smith was following his passion, working long hours in the kitchen and attending The Culinary Institute of America in New York, when he noticed he was becoming increasingly thirsty and fatigued. Being assured by his doctor that it was nothing but the effects of a hectic and stressful lifestyle, he continued to soldier on through a variety of increasingly troubling symptoms until — seven months later and 30 pounds lighter — he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Told that he should consider leaving the culinary industry for something less taxing, Chef Chris instead turned the situation on its head. He now speaks nationwide as The Diabetic Chef about living a healthy lifestyle and develops tasty and nutritious recipes for people with and without diabetes alike. “Everyone in the family can benefit” from eating well, he says.


Matt Petersen, Managing Director of Medical Information and Professional Membership at the American Diabetes Association (ADA), agrees. “Not only is it hard work to prepare different meals for different people, it’s unnecessary. We have converged on the fact that healthy eating is essentially the same thing for most people.”

American Diabetes Month, Petersen says, should be used to start thinking about simple approaches to improving your diet — tweaking recipes to make them healthier, for example, rather than scrapping them completely and opting for foods that you think you should be eating but likely won’t stick with for the long term. “Don’t throw out the enchilada and replace it with a quinoa salad,” Petersen says. “The foods have to…reflect your food preferences.”

Keeping an eye on fat, carbohydrate, and sodium levels is one good way to adjust your meals to be healthier, says Chef Chris. With the holiday season in full swing, he offers the following tips for improving the nutritional profile of your meals without sacrificing taste:

• Roast your turkey rather than deep-frying. It can taste just as good, if not better!

• Bake or roast your vegetables to reduce levels of fat and sodium.

• Offer food in individual portions, rather than serving it family-style. Even cranberry sauce and desserts can be presented in single servings for portion control.

In partnership with Equal, Chef Chris has created a variety of delicious, diabetes-friendly holiday desserts and drinks in accordance with the ADA’s nutritional guidelines. To get the recipes for his Pumpkin Pie Minis, Apple Cranberry Strudel Bites, “Hot” Hot Cocoa, and more, download his free cookbook at

This blog entry was written by Senior Digital Editor Diane Fennell.