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June 13, 2001

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:

I am 31 years old, overweight, and have had diabetes for about a year an a half. Just recently, I started a diet which consists of mostly chef salads with non-fat cottage cheese and lean meat in it with fat free salad dressing, and my sugar level drops way to low (today it went to 21mg/dl [1.7 mmol/L]). What am I doing wrong? I thought I was supposed to be following a 1500 calorie diet.

Answer:

I can hear the frustration in your note. You have cut back on your food intake drastically, eating minimal amounts of food, little or no fat and your reward is low blood sugar. Quite the pay off, huh? You don’t mention whether or not you’re taking any diabetes medicines and what your before and after eating blood sugars are, which would be helpful information.

This low carb diet will indeed lower blood sugars, but it is, and always will be, a diet. Diets don’t work for the long haul. I would have to recommend that you find a way to incorporate your normal food choices into a healthy style of eating so that you don’t feel like you’re on a diet and you will not get these low blood sugars from too little carb.

It might be very helpful to work with a diabetes dietitian to learn carbohydrate management techniques and how to interpret your blood sugar readings in response to the foods you choose to eat. If you don’t have a diabetes educator, you can call the American Association of diabetes educators at 1-800-TEAM UP 4. I know there are many in your area and hopefully you can add one to your diabetes team.

KS