How To: Follow Dr. Bernstein’s Dietary Plan

This section is for everyone.

Dr Bernstein’s dietary plan is at the strict end of the low carb dietary scale. The diet consists of planned, carefully measured, prepared and consistent amounts of protein foods and non starchy vegetables. In addition double cream, cheese and soya products are allowed. You can have some low carbohydrate sweeteners and beverages.

He aims to give suitable and small amounts of carbohydrate required for good health with the trade off that minimal amounts of insulin with then be required from the pancreas in type twos and by injection for type ones.

The exact monitoring system and ways to trouble shoot problems that crop up along the way are described in detail with a full account of the rationale. The reasoning is impeccable, the results are impressive. The difficulty is that it is a tough plan for most of us who love eating fruit, grains and starches.

The food is pleasant to eat as tasty fats, spices and herbs are used to give a wide variety of flavour.  The Bernie forum members have experimented with ingredients so you can eat cakes, biscuits, bread as well as main course and starter dishes. I would say that the difficulty lies in the daily planning and meal preparation that is needed. It is the consistency in doing this day after day that can be particularly hard to do.

You do need motivation to follow Dr Bernsteins diet for long periods of time. If you are on insulin however you do need to be highly consistent with your meals for control and safety in any event.

If you already have the complications of diabetes and can see that you are steadily getting worse you may now be at the point that you will do what it takes. If you are a type two diabetic who is really keen to avoid insulin injections now or in the future this plan offers real help. Although diabetes is still an incurable chronic disease it is very treatable and the long term complications are almost fully preventable.

You will get the best results from reading Dr Bernstein’s book “Diabetes Solution” particularly if you are insulin dependent.  Those not on insulin could read “Diabetes Diet.” You may also find listening to his podcasts and CDs and joining the forum on his website to be of interest and informative. It can help to chat on line to people who have similar difficulties to you.

When you change your eating pattern so radically it can help if you live with someone who can help you with your diabetes and food preparation.  The transition phase is the most risky for insulin dependants having hypos. Although Dr Bernstein himself advocates a rapid transition to meals of 6 and 12 g of carb at a time, he can do this because he is very experienced and keeps a daily check on his patients till they are stable.  Outside of this situation I would always advocate a planned and stepwise reduction in carbohydrate intake.  You can read more about this in the “Atkins in Reverse”  chapters in the type 2 section.

You will need to monitor your sugars much more closely in the transition phase and adjust your insulins downwards with care and in response to your blood sugar readings. This does take considerably longer to get stability than if you were one of Dr Bernstein’s patients, and your carb cravings will continue for longer, but it is the only way to do this in safety without the direct supervision of an experienced health professional.

Due to the high level of consistency required and more time and effort into sorting out your diabetes than you have probably ever done before,  I do not recommend you start this plan until you have overcome any major outstanding personal or domestic issues. You can do this plan even if you don’t have much money, but if your life is chaotic and you don’t have support I suspect it would be just too hard.

Dr Bernstein’s entire plan is well worth reading for the detailed information he provides about all aspects of diabetes management that is not easily found in one place. I see his plan as an ideal to aim for if you are looking for optimal control over your blood sugars. The most helpful part I have found is that I don’t have to worry about hypos when my son goes to bed at night.

Even if you do not follow the plan to the letter you are very likely to get much better control than you are already getting now by a planned adoption of the aspects of the plan that you CAN achieve consistently. YOU have to find out how to get the best sugars you can for YOU with the food you are happy to eat day in and day out.

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Reference Info:
Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution

Where to Next?
Please continue to How To: Use Insulin to the Best Effect section.