Janet Dietz’s diabetic-friendly recipes were created out of necessity.
Dietz is the founder of Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights, a facility at 3466 S. Decatur Blvd. for more than 30 years.
“I had lost a husband to diabetes and a heart condition,” she said of the genesis of the bakery. “Then I met Ron Dietz, mostly diabetic.”
But she was prepared for battle. She went to supermarkets, specialty stores, anything she could think of, looking for sugar-free foods. She tried everything. And then she threw it away.
“I said, ‘No one should have to eat this; it’s horrible,’” Dietz recalled.
He decided to take matters into his own hands. Using family recipes and some from other sources, she made minor adjustments to make them usable by diabetics, analyzing the nutritional content with the help of a computer program. She researched flavor and texture information at local workplaces, and soon had a passable cheesecake and a few other items.
It was then that Ron told her that they had to open a bakery.
“I said, ‘Are you crazy?’ ”she recalled. “ ‘I’m not going to get up at 3 in the morning.’ ”
His response: “We have to go for it. We diabetics have nothing.
And there are plenty of them in the United States: more than 37 million, or 1 in 10 Americans.
confusion about diabetes
The disease is in the spotlight during November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, but awareness is a constant theme for Katie Spada, a registered dietitian at University Medical Center. Spada said there’s a lot of confusion about the two types of diabetes. Type 1 is usually detected in childhood, but in recent years it has become more common in adolescents and young adults.
“Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder,” Spada said. “We have no control over whether it happens or not. Type 1 attacks the body’s ability to produce insulin. There is nothing we can do to prevent it or to improve your body’s ability to produce insulin. It just turns off that ability.” Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is more a factor of lifestyle, exercise and diet, he said.
“Your body still produces insulin and you can make lifestyle modifications to reduce the impact of diabetes,” he said.
Type 2 diabetes is not directly related to obesity, he said, but “we tend to see it more in people who live with larger bodies, simply because of their food choices and level of exercise.”
Modifications include moving around more.
“Take a walk after you eat,” he advises patients. “That gets the sugar out of your blood and moves it into your cells. Even a simple 10-15 minute walk can really help lower blood sugar levels.”
Spada said there is a common misconception that diabetics should avoid carbohydrates in their diets.
Instead, “don’t let your carbs run out,” she said. “Pair them with a protein or fat, which tends to reduce the spike in blood sugar.” And opt for complex carbohydrates when possible.
Spada noted that the guidelines for increasing exercise and adjusting your diet also apply to preventing type 2 diabetes, as well as improving overall health.
sugar free candies
Type 2 diabetics should avoid sweet treats, which typically involve simple carbohydrates not paired with sufficient amounts of protein or fat, and that’s where Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights comes in.
Dietz sold the business eight years ago to Juan “Pepe” Medina, who had worked there for 15 years. He said the couple took him under his wings shortly after his arrival from Mexico, teaching him to bake, use his recipes and speak English.
“He got interested in that,” she said of the business. “Pepe learned it very quickly.”
Today, the store sells products made from Dietz’s original recipes, with a few tweaks to bring them up to date along the way. They are currently sweetened with a blend of Splenda and stevia.
Medina said the cheesecake is the most popular, followed by the eclairs and the cheese danish. Other options include wrasse, cream puffs, pies, cakes, tarts, bear claws, pinwheels, muffins, brownies, and cupcakes. All of the bakery items are made in-house, along with some of the sweets. Dietz said they also make the blueberry, pineapple and apple fillings from scratch. Nutrition information is available on a printed sheet.
Vegan James Tatman said he has been coming to the shop for 20 years and is especially fond of the cheesecake.
“Their food is very good; it’s always fresh,” Tatman said. “I wouldn’t buy anywhere else.”
Davi Digittelli said that he likes baked goods like cupcakes and eclairs, and sweets.
“Eating this, you wouldn’t think it was sugar-free,” he said.
And he said that such products, in quality, are difficult to find.
“There aren’t many options,” Digittelli said. “That is why I come here. I much prefer buying locally than buying online. And (Medina) great. That’s another reason I keep coming back.”
Dietz said that Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights remains unique.
“Nobody has a whole line of sugar-free (products),” he said. “I love it when new customers come in and say, ‘What’s sugar free?’ They are so happy when they see that everything is fine.”