How To: Decide What To Eat When Using Insulin

This section is for everyone.

The two dietary plans I wish to discuss in this section are Dr Bernstein’s and Dr Jovanovich’s plans.  Both of these diets call for a restricted amount of carbohydrate at each meal. Both doctors are type one diabetics themselves.

Dr Lois Jovanovich works in Santa Barbara California. She treats all kinds of diabetics but has a particular interest in improving the outcomes in pregnancy for type one, type 2  and gestational diabetic women.

Lois advocates a ceiling of 30 g of carb for each meal. If a snack is necessary it should be no more than 15g.

She admits pregnant patients for stabilisation of their diabetes as soon as a pregnancy is known about. By careful diet, exercise and insulin treatment her aim is to achieve non diabetic blood sugar levels. By this method she has greatly improved the outcome of these pregnancies for both mother and especially the babies.

It is imporant to note that the carbohydrate values she gives are limits not targets. The goal is to achieve as normal blood sugars as possible. If you can get there at 30g of carb a meal that’s okay but if you don’t you go lower.

Dr Richard Bernstein works in Marmaroneck New York State and has spent the last 25 years in practice dealing with diabetic and prediabetic patients. Richard was diagnosed with insulin deficient diabetes when he was 12. He followed standard dietary advice but by his 30s had severe and life threatening complications affecting his blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, heart and joints.

There were three factors that turned his life around. He was an engineer who was used to solving problems. His wife was a physician who helped him buy the first portable blood sugar meter that was only sold to physicians. He knew his life was on the line and this made him determined to beat diabetes.

After considerable research he found that the way to stop the painful and debilitating complications of diabetes was to maintain normal blood sugars as much of the time as possible.

“The Law of Small Numbers”  is the core of his method of controlling blood sugars.  There are many things about diabetes you cannot reliably control but the ones you can – you do.

Regarding diet you can predict what rise in blood sugar you are likely to have simply by eating foods that will affect your blood sugar in a small way. Even if you were to measure foods accurately there can be as much as 20% error allowed to the manufacturer when listing ingredients. If you stick to low levels of slow acting nutritious carbohydrates such as vegetables the results will be more predictable than large amounts of rapid acting carbohydrates such as bread, rice, potatoes or sugar.

Covering carbohydrates with insulin is a task full of uncertainty. There is about a 30-50% variation between the effects of the same insulin amount injected from jag to jag. This can be minimised by reducing the amount in any one injection to 7 units or less and keeping the carb count low with the gradual release of sugar that comes from vegetables high in cellulose.

For type one diabetics three meals a day is best. This minimises insulin injections and gives opportunities three or four times a day to correct the blood sugar to normal levels.

By careful experimentation Richard discovered what factors made his sugars stay normal and what factors made them go too high or too low. Many of his complications started to reverse including the kidney disease, neuropathy, heart and eye disease.

To his surprise and eventual dismay Richard  found that the medical profession of the time were not interested in his results, his method or his meter. So he decided he would need to become a doctor himself in order to let patients know of his success and he entered medical school at the age of 45.

Dr Richard Bernstein’s publications contain comprehensive and detailed advice that is based on what works for diabetics. In particular he emphasises the benefits of a very low glycaemic / carbohydrate diet. Much of what he says is still in conflict with the advice that is given out by The American Diabetes Association, Diabetes UK and most NHS dieticians and diabetologists. Unlike these people and organisations however he is absolutely rigorous in letting the reader know the scientific fact that underpins his advice.

The reason you are reading how to look after you diabetes on the web instead of from your local diabetes team is that the medical establishment are thoroughly entrenched in their high carb / low fat ways.

Unfortunately if you eat the way many diabetic clinics tell you to you will make it unnecessarily hard to control your blood sugars and this will make the development of diabetic complications inevitable.

This low carb diabetic course has been compiled by myself with the generous help of other diabetics, their carers and interested doctors and researchers. It takes a lot of nerve to do something very different from what a diabetic specialist or dietician tells you. My son Steven developed type one diabetes at the age of 12.  I am absolutely determined that he will have the same chance to enjoy a full and long life as his non diabetic brother. Fortunately many other people have the same aims for their relatives, friends and for themselves.  We have joined resources on Dr Bernstein’s forum to help you have normal sugars and prevent and reverse diabetic complications.

Quick Quiz:
There is no quiz for this section.

Reference Info:
Acknowlegements to Dr Lois Jovanovich’s many web published articles and lectures and Dr Richard Bernstein whose masterpiece “Diabetes Solution.” could be regarded as the core text of this course.

Where to Next?
Please all continue to How To: Follow Dr. Bernstein's Dietary Plan.