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July 12, 2004

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Ashland, Kentucky, USA:

I was diagnosed with diabetes at 18 months of age. Now 19 years old, I always ate a very high carbohydrate diet, followed by low blood sugars that had to be elevated through more carbohydrate consumption, eventually leading to weight gain. My dietitian does not "believe" in a low carbohydrate diet for diabetics, but all I keep hearing is how good this way of eating is for diabetics, especially those on insulin. Common sense just tells me that more insulin leads to more stored fat, which leads to more weight gain, which leads to a greater need for more insulin...also known as the "vicious cycle" of diabetes. I remember the doctor telling me, when I was little, that the only "safe" sugary treat for me was angel food cake. Now, I seem to be fighting the biggest battle of my life, trying to decide to eat more carbohydrates, getting fiber, but requiring more insulin, or, eating fewer carbohydrates, lowering my insulin, and losing weight. Is it safe for a diabetic to follow a low carbohydrate diet to cut medications and lose weight? How many carbohydrates are safe for a diabetic to eat on a low carbohydrate diet? I know that cutting too many causes adverse affects. I am just so frustrated.

Answer:

Any highly restrictive diet is not “satisfactory”. A balanced diet is the most appropriate for any individual. High protein diets in individuals with diabetes may put undo stress on the kidneys and muscular system. I would speak with your physician and dietitian about designing a diet for your lifestyle and insulin regimen. If they cannot give you the answer you are looking for, then I would suggest that you obtain a second opinion. Either way, don’t get frustrated but get they answers.

ABS