Super Bowl champ Tom Crabtree helps tackle diabetes - deliciously
November 21st, 2011
10:00 AM ET
Share this on:

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and for people who suffer from the disease, what to eat can be a daily life or death decision. Super Bowl champ Tom Crabtree of the Green Bay Packers is a National Spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and his wife, Chelsea was diagnosed with the disease when she was four years old.

Together, they share some great information, tips and recipes for parents and kids whose lives are affected by juvenile diabetes.

Eatocracy: How did you become a National Spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation?

Tom Crabtree: It is part of everyday life with my family, so I’m fortunate enough to have a stage where I can raise awareness.

Eatocracy: How is juvenile diabetes different from other types of diabetes?

Chelsea Crabtree: J.D. is Type 1 diabetes and can be hereditary or autoimmune - not caused by bad eating habits. Type 2 Diabetes can be linked with lifestyle choices such eating habits or lack of exercise.

Eatocracy: What are some of the things you do to raise awareness?

Tom: Through Twitter @Tcrabtree83, I have raised awareness with my fans and I have a personal website where fans can buy merchandise and part of the proceeds go to JDRF. And we have future plans with our local chapter.

Eatocracy: How important is education? There are so many myths such as sugar causing diabetes.

Chelsea: Education is really important. Many people don’t realize there are two types of diabetes and that Type 1 is becoming more prevalent.

From Each and every day in the U.S., about 80 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Eatocracy: How did you find out you had juvenile diabetes?

Chelsea: I was diagnosed when I was four. My parents didn’t recognize the signs but I was very thirsty, I was urinating a lot and being very hostile with others. They took me to the doctor who checked my blood sugar and I was taken to the hospital where I was diagnosed.

Eatocracy: How did you get through childhood events such as birthday parties and holidays?

Chelsea: I would bring home what was served and I would auction it off to my sister and my parents and the dinner table and the highest bidder would win. So I got something out of it without the temptation of eating the sweets.

Eatocracy: How would you suggest a parent go about supporting their child who is diabetic, when it comes to food and feeling different?

Chelsea: I think it is important to acknowledge they are different and empower them about food - what they can and can’t have. I went to a camp for children with diabetes and they stressed how we were in control of making good food choices.

Eatocracy: Do you have any suggestions regarding diet restrictions and food substitutions to help a kid still feel like a kid?

Chelsea: You do have to watch sugar, fats and carbohydrates but I have still have fun recipes that substitute for kid friendly foods. [Chelsea's recipes are below]

Eatocracy: You are new parents. Is your son genetically predisposed to diabetes?

Chelsea: We will have him tested but they don’t think mine is genetic because nobody else in the family has ever being diagnosed.

Eatocracy: We all know that most processed foods carry loads of sodium which is a trigger for diabetics. Being a busy person, how you navigate fast food restaurants and those quick fixes that may be harmful to your wife’s health?

Tom: Life is really fast-paced and you can’t always avoid fast food. But you have to be smart and make good choices, and that comes back to the education side of it and doing research to see what foods you can eat at different restaurants.

Eatocracy: You’re a tight end, I’m sure that comes with a hearty appetite. How has your wife’s disease affected how you eat and your awareness of the contents of your food?

Tom: It has been a positive for me. In my line of work, a healthy diet is necessary. So I eat a lot but together we make good food choices.

Chelsea's Recipes

Sugarless Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup fructose
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 9" unbaked pie shell with high fluted edge***

Mix filling ingredients in order given. Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

***If using a store-bought frozen shell, the recipe fills two. Bake on cookie sheet in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

***If using a store-bought deep dish shell the recipe fills one. Let shell thaw for 10 minutes: then pinch edge so that it stands 1/2" above rim of pan. Bake on cookie sheet in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking 50 minutes or until done.

Sugarless Apple Pie

6 medium granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
6 ounces frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons margarine
Deep dish pie crusts

Place apples and undiluted apple juice in large pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of water. Gently stir cornstarch into apple mixture.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes or until apples begin to soften and mixture is thickened. Gently stir in cinnamon. Fill pastry shell with apples. Use a 10" pie plate with slices about 2" deep. Dot margarine over apple mixture.

Cover pie with a top crust which has been pricked with a fork or with a lattice-type crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Jackie Degraff

    Autoimmune diseases arise from an inappropriate immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body (autoimmunity). This may be restricted to certain organs (e.g. in autoimmune thyroiditis) or involve a particular tissue in different places.-"-

    Our blog site

    June 8, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  2. Scott

    I'm a 26 year old Type 1 and have been since ~14 months old. At 16 I found out I had Celiac disease, a complication from my Type 1, which has made my bloodsugars extremely "brittle." I also have to deal with the "insatiable appetite" as another complication due to the lack of whatever it is in your brain that lets you "feel full."

    My parents' philosophy was "let him eat what he wants while he's still alive and we'll get through it. Just watching it really closely!" Now I didn't eat candy until I was around 12, but we started adding it in slowly and watching what was happening. We decry how horrid things with sugar are, then run to them when we're low. The key is learning how you react to things personally. We found out chocolate is easier to handle than fruits because it acts more like a fat, as opposed ot the simple sugars in fruits (at least for me). I did my 4th grade Science Fair Project on the differences between what an apple, potato, candy bar, etc. all did to my blood sugar, and it opened up an entirely new world of eating freedom once I understood.

    I won't lie and say I'm watching what I eat - but I eat and then try to watch. You can deal with ANY food by just being smart with your insulin. Don't let the diabetes run your entire food plan. Admit that you have it, admit it's not going away, admit there are some things you simply can't do like "normal people" - but LIVE! You can't do it "the same way," but you CAN still do it! Because let's face it - sometimes your body just does something that NO amount of preparing can save you from. Just make sure the freedom is not given until the one with the disease is "aware" of their disease.

    I'm not the healthiest person or diabetic, but I don't feel restricted by food. It made my move to an entirely different country much easier. I don't know what everything is in the foods I eat, but I know how to watch my bloodsugar and adjust accordingly. If I were boxed into the food plans my diabetologists used to give me 10 years ago, I would never have gone overseas. You're limiting your children if you are.

    Also for the record, I laugh so hard everytime one of my well-meaning friends tells me I can cure my diabetes if I just try this new diet they read about online. x3 And WOOOOOO JDRF!

    November 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  3. Mark

    Great piece. Type 1 is actually a totally different disease, not hereditary. The immune system attacks the beta cells, in the pancreas,that produce insulin. There is never any kind of remission. My daughter was diagnosed when she was 13 months old. She is 15 years old now. Every day is a different battle. We need to find a cure for all who live with this life altering chronic disease. Support the JDRF!!!!

    November 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Sarah

      Don't kid yourself, autoimmune diseases can very much be hereditary. Type 1 diabetes, Celiac Disease, autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. all share common genes and these genes can be passed from generation to generation. The expression of such genes may or may not occur. In other cases, autoimmune syndromes that can include Type 1 diabetes can be very much hereditary. HLA types DQ8 and DQ2 carry a very high risk of Type 1 diabetes, and AIRE gene mutations can lead to autoimmune syndromes that include Type 1 diabetes. About 20% of people with Type 1 diabetes have a family history, and if you include those that have other autoimmune diseases in the family such as listed above, the numbers may in fact be even higher. In other cases, it's possible to have forms of "hereditary Type 1 diabetes" that are really MODY or due to other causes than autoimmune.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Megan

    I have Type 1 diabetes, and I am SO glad there are people out there raising awareness about this disease. I have to explain to a lot of people how Type 1 is different than Type 2. So I really appreciate others speaking out about this disease.

    And yes, these "sugarless" recipes aren't really sugarless, more like "no sugar added" or "low sugar" recipes. And finding out the carb counds isn't that hard Sue. Just look on the packages of the ingredients you use and do the math! I think a lot of people can benefit by looking at labels and doing the math more often - not only can carb intake be reduced, but calorie and sodium intake, too.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  5. Sue

    I take great offense at the statement regarding "bad eating habits' and lack of excersize for Type 2. I am a type 2, and am 5"8, 150 lbs and run 3 miles daily. Always have. What did I do wrong to get this ? Nothing. And those recipes are not "sugar free" as stated. All natural fruits have sugar in them. What is the carb count in these ? And adding fructose ? Very misleading.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Patrick

      Haters gonna hate. Douchebags gonna douche. You're both, idiot.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Shawn Wisley

      Try not to take too much offense. After all, while YOUR case is not linked with bad choices, most are. And Chelsea did use the words "can be" not "is always". Type 2 diabetes is overwhelmingly a diet/exercise condition. Type 1 is not. That's the misconception that we type-1 diabetics have to deal with all the time. I understand your frustration given your individual case, but it's clearly not the norm.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Mike

      I will agree with Shawn. You shouldn't take offense to that at all. You are a unique case interms of type 2 diabetes. You have insulin resistance and sometimes that's how it goes, much like being type 1. However, as an exercise physiologist there is a greater increase insulin resistance in individuals who exhibit poor diet and excess fat. You just happen to be an exception. Much like me, I have zero family history with type 1 and I've been an athlete my whole life. Just like you, I am an exception. Just keep working on getting your blood sugars low and enjoy life.

      November 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  6. Packer Backer 1265

    Tom and Chelsea are great people. Perfect for our community.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
| Part of