Wow -- your boyfriend is lucky to have you! And very lucky indeed to have found this out at the age of 25, so he can turn it around and protect his health from this point on.
I'm a Type II diabetic, too, and so is my father... and in the course of the past several years, I've gone through two lengthy training classes (one with my father, one for myself) with diabetes specialists and nutrition experts, so I'm just packed full of information!
I'm too sleepy to organize my thoughts very well here, so let me just rattle off the things I've learned that might help you...
1. There are low-carb pastas available that taste pretty good, especially if you go heavy on the sauce. There's also spaghetti squash, which looks and to some extent tastes like pasta, and can be used as a healthier substitute. And I've found I eat less pasta if I use penne, rigatoni, farfalle, or some other interesting shape, rather than traditional spaghetti. Not sure why!
2. Benefiber is a great product -- a fine fiber powder that mixes into liquids, doesn't thicken them, doesn't change the taste... but adds good healthy fiber, which helps the body cope with carbs. I add it to pasta sauces, soups, the liquids I put into baking recipes... even a little in hot chocolate.
3. If your boyfriend is overweight, it might be that he can drastically improve or even eliminate his diabetes by losing some weight. That's a question for the doctor, though.
4. Cinnamon has been found to help reduce blood glucose -- you can add it to foods, and you can also take it as a supplement in capsules.
5. Although you want to reduce carb intake, don't be tempted by the whole South Beach, all-protein type of diet -- it's potentially dangerous to make such a drastic change. Nutrition is about balance... not radical extremes.
6. It can be incredibly time-consuming to cook healthy for a diabetic... well, to cook healthy, period
... so it's convenient to keep some frozen dinners around. Lean Cuisine has some excellent low-carb dinners that my father really enjoys (I'm a vegetarian, so I don't use them).
7. When you're buying frozen dinners or other prepared foods, don't just look for the "Sugars" listing -- look at "Total Carbohydrates." That's the number you should go by. If there's significant dietary fiber in the item, you can deduct that number from the total carbs, because the fiber helps so much. It's best to stay away from dinners with rice, potatoes, or noodles, though... those will have an amazingly high carb count, even though the fat and calories are low.
8. There's a bread called "Double Fiber Wheat" -- I don't remember the brand name, but it's got a navy-blue label -- and it has five grams of fiber per slice. That's 'way more than other commercial breads, so you can have more
bread if you use that kind.
9. Those tiny baby carrots make great snacks, especially dipped in a nice light salad dressing. I make my own dressing with a little olive oil, a lot of balsamic or red-wine vinegar, some basil, some black pepper, and a touch of salt substitute or a light-salt blend. You can also use apple-cider vinegar with a little lemon or lime juice.
10. Be careful buying "sugar-free" products -- sugar-free doesn't always mean lower in carbs. Also, notice what they've used as a sweetener. Splenda is great -- but if they've used maltitol or sorbitol, you have to be careful how much you eat, because those will have a laxative effect.
11. I used to eat peanut-butter-and-apple sandwiches a lot, and I loved them... but when I was diagnosed, I dropped the bread and just started dipping slices of apple into Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter -- and it's so good, I don't even miss the bread. Best breakfast in the world!
12. Beans are great for diabetics, in moderation -- they're full of fiber and protein. I make vegetarian baked beans and vegetarian chili a lot, but I'm sorry, I don't have written recipes for them... I just throw 'em together!
Here's as close as I can describe them for you:Vegetarian Baked Beans
3 or 4 cans of vegetarian beans -- I like Heinz or Bush's
1 sweet onion, yellow or white
Heinz Ketchup, the low-carb kind if you can find it
Sugar-free maple syrup -- the Maple Grove brand is better than most
In a deep bowl, add perhaps a half-cup of ketchup to the beans -- enough to give their sauce a reddish tint when you stir it up.
Add about two tablespoons of the maple syrup.
Peel the onion and cut it in half, then hold one half of it above the bowl and scrape the cut surface with a paring knife to drip some onion pulp into the bean mixture. I guess I end up adding about a quarter-cup of onion pulp altogether.
Finally, add about two tablespoons of Benefiber.
Stir it all together and pour it into a shallow baking dish. Slice a few small rings of onion to scatter over the top to make it pretty and bake it at 350 Fahrenheit until the edges are thoroughly bubbly... about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your dish and how many cans of beans you used.Vegetarian Chili
4 or 5 cans of Bush's vegetarian chili beans
2 large cans of Hunt's tomato sauce -- though you may not need all
3 or 4 large sweet onions, yellow or white
Heinz Ketchup, low-carb if you can find it
Olive oil or canola oil
French's Chili-O Seasoning Mix
Cayenne pepper (if needed)
I should warn you that, even though I live in Texas, this is not
Texan chili. This chili would get you run out of town on a rail around here... but around here, people put rattlesnakes and armadillos in their chili, so I'm proud
that mine doesn't qualify!
So here we go:
In the biggest pot you have, swirl about a quarter-cup of olive oil around to coat the sides. Then add the onions, peeled and diced. There should be enough onions to fill the pot about one-third of the way up.
Stir the onions around to coat them with the oil, then put a tight lid on the pot and turn the heat on very, very low.
Let them warm gently, stirring every five minutes or so, until they go limp and translucent.
Stir in the first can of tomato sauce and increase the heat to medium-low.
Add about a half-cup of Benefiber and stir well.
Add the beans and stir them into the tomato sauce. Then take a good sturdy potato masher and begin crushing the beans. You can crush them all or leave some whole if you prefer.
Once you've crushed the beans as much as you intend to, you can get a feel for how thick the chili is going to be. You'll probably want to add some or all of the other can of tomato sauce to thin it a little -- but leave it a little thicker than you want, because you're about to...
Add some ketchup. I know, I know, it sounds strange in chili -- but it gives it a nice tangy, bright flavor that contrasts so well with the onions! The only way I know how much ketchup to add is by color: the chili is just right when it's a little bit more red than brown.
And finally, stir in your French's Chili-O seasoning mix. You may have a seasoning you like better, or you may want to mix your own spices -- but for me, it's been French's ever since I can remember.
Once everything is well-mixed and warmed through, I reduce the heat again and put the lid back on to let it simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
When it's done, you can serve it as chili with crackers or cornbread... but my favorite thing to do is spread it on chalupa shells (or taco shells broken in half), sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top, run it into the oven for a few minutes to bubble-up the cheese, and toss on some diced raw onions. There's no such thing as too many onions!