The ADA sends me lots of new books to review these days — mostly cookbooks, come to think of it. I'm not always that intrigued.  But the most recent title definitely peaked my interest: "What to Expect When You Have Diabetes: 170 Tips for Living Well with Diabetes."  Looking it over, I was both encouraged and disappointed by this book.

First off, the book's title is pretty much a misnomer.  It's broken up into 170 brief sections all right, but they're not "tips" per se, but rather a huge list of Questions and Answers that seem to summarize the ADA's collective knowledge about living with diabetes.  And let me start by saying that this book is geared towards newly diagnosed Type 2s, according to the forward by Dr. John Buse, which might tell you a lot right there.

On the positive side, you can flip through this book and get some quick knowledge on anything from "how does exercise raise or lower my blood sugar?" to "what is a meal plan?" to "how close are we to a cure for diabetes?"  Each answer is about one page long, so very easy to digest.  Since the book covers the fundamentals of insulin resistance, common oral drugs, and detecting highs and lows, it could be a great item to stuff in those info packs we thought we might drop over the country via airlift for so many PWDs who haven't had access yet to any basic diabetes education at all.  It's a nice all-in-one volume that you could give to your Aunt Betty so she could flip through her most pertinent Qs and As about diabetes.

On the negative side, I have two major bones to pick with this book:

1) There's almost no mention of carbohydrates being the main culprit in raising blood sugar levels.  I couldn't even find the word "carbohydrates" in the index.  At first look, all I could find was one question explaining that eating a brownie and eating a piece of bread will both raise your blood sugar.  I did eventually find the question "What is carbohydrate counting?" in the General section on Nutrition, but was surprised to see its usefulness played down, as if carbs were just a side note.  Geez!  IMHO, the one thing most people with Type 2 in this country don't get enough of is an understanding of why limiting carbs is so important, especially when you're not taking insulin so you can't even "correct" for a little overindulgence.

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To make matters worse, the section on snack choices even recommends grain products, in particular bagels.  WtF?  With no recognition by the ADA, how do you explain to Aunt Betty that that bagel she's about to down is going to send her BG way, way up?

2) This book could have been written in the 1980s — in the sense that it doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the Internet.  The words "online" or "web" appear nowhere in this book.  Even where further resources are recommended, the authors present only 1-800-numbers to call.  Come on!  No mention of online resources at all?  What's the message here?  Does the ADA think its target audience for this book is too dull to take advantage of the treasures found online?  I'm just having a hard time getting over this one.

But if you can get over these two humps, like I said, the ADA's new "170 Tips" book might make a great stocking stuffer for someone new to diabetes.  It is, after all, chock-full of good basic knowledge and packaged in a quite appealing format.

[American Diabetes Association, June 2008, $9.95 on Amazon]

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