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Local chef cooks up meals for people with diabetes

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Courtesy Chef Mike Neylan | The Daily Wildcat Chef Mike cooked Salisbury steak for a client. He said he tailors meals to people's tastes and needs.

Mike Neylan, or Chef Mike, is a personal chef in Tucson who specializes in cooking for clients with diabetes, including University of Arizona students. 

Neylan’s career started in Connecticut, where he was chef for 25 years. He said that his work included having a private jet catering company and cooking at multiple restaurants and bakeries.

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According to Neylan, he started cooking for diabetics when one of his clients told him her father was recently diagnosed with diabetes and wanted to know if Neylan could cook for him. 

Neylan plans individualized meals for every client he cooks for. 

He said that every diabetic has different needs and he differentiates meals he cooks for those needs, such as a client having Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, or if they are pre-diabetic.

“Well, the thing is some of them have to eat really like no potatoes, no rice, because it will spike their insulin, their sugar levels up really high,” Neylan said. “It’s all individualized, what I do. I follow a doctor’s instructions.”

He said that, for his diabetic clients, he cooks with a lot vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, and that he can also cook vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Neylan has also cooked for people who have high blood pressure. He said for them, he tries to cook food that is low in salt, which can also help diabetics. 

According to Neylan, he has cooked for UA students before. He said that a graduate student’s parent reached out to him since they were worried that the diabetic student might not eat well enough two states away, so he cooked for them.

Sarah Duke, a registered dietitian nutritionist and co-founder of Duke Nutrition Experts, said that she has referred clients to Neylan. 

She said that most of the conditions she deals with at Duke Nutrition Experts are chronic inflammatory conditions, which include fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines. She also said that nutrition can help control and improve most diseases.

Duke said her reason for referring clients to him is personals chefs are very helpful for people who want or need to eat healthy or in a specific way, but don’t have the time to cook due to long work hours, or just don’t enjoy cooking.

“I like to refer to Chef Mike because he has experience working with diabetics, people with food allergies and sensitivities and other conditions, and he will also work within the parameter we give him,” Duke said. “He also takes into account what the clients like to eat so they will enjoy their meal plans.”

Neylan said that he believes it is important to cater to those with diabetes.

“It’s a real problem,” Neylan said. “People are diagnosed every day, thousands of people, diagnosed every day, and it’s a real issue with people and not eating right can make things worse.”

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From her personal experience, Duke said that Neylan’s meals are not only healthy, but delicious.

“Chef Mike goes out of his way to make healthy food taste delicious,” Duke said. “I’ve tried some of his meals and they are really good. Hiring a personal chef can be a great way to help you stick with a nutrition plan.”


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