Low Carb Diets for People with Diabetes
For people with type 1 diabetes Diabetes UK have found that there is good evidence that the most effective strategy to improve glycaemic control is to match insulin on a meal-by-meal basis to the amount of carbohydrate consumed. For people with type 2 diabetes who wish to lose weight there is evidence that lower carbohydrate diets are effective in the short term. This includes low carb diets providing 50-130g of carb a day. However, a low carb diet should not be regarded as a more superior or a better approach than other strategies in the long term. The evidence shows that total energy intake is the main predictor of weight loss so people should be encouraged to choose any evidence-based approach they prefer.
Please visit Diabetes UK for ideas with meal plans and low carb diets or help and support and much more information.
Most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is essential fuel for the brain. Generally, the body aims to maintain a tight control of glucose levels in the bloodstream, keeping a store of extra glucose as glycogen in the liver and the muscles for times when fasting or when extra glucose is needed. However, diabetes affects how the body controls glucose levels in the blood, and how stored glucose in the liver is released.
Here at Brannams we recommend eating real foods which are low in carbohydrate to many of our patients as well as to our friends and family. We think it is especially helpful for those with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and weight problems.
Red, Amber and Green foods & drinks
Red foods are foods to avoid as much as possible eg. sugar, bread, rice, pasta
Amber foods are foods which are ok occasionally/in moderation eg. bacon & nuts
Green foods are things that you can have as much as you like (within reason!) eg. salad & green vegetables
Sugar, cut it out altogether
Although it will be in blueberries, strawberries and raspberries you are allowed to eat. Cakes and biscuits are a mixture of sugar and starch that make it almost impossible to avoid food cravings: they just make you hungrier!
Reduce starchy carbs a lot
Remember they digest down into surprising amounts of sugar. If possible cut out the 'white stuff' like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and breakfast cereal.
All green veg/salads are fine
Eat as much as you can, turn the 'white stuff' green. So that you still eat a good big dinner try substituting veg such as broccoli, courgettes or green beans for your mash, pasta or rice - still covering with your gravy, bolognese or curry!
Fruit is thicker...
Some tropical fruits like bananas, oranges, grapes, mangoes or pineapples have too much sugar in and can set those carb cravings off. Berries are better and can be eaten; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples and pears too.
Eat healthy proteins...
Such as meat, eggs (three eggs a day is not too much), fish - particularly oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna - are fine and can be eaten freely. Plain full fat yoghurt makes a good breakfast with berries or seeds. Processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausages or salami are not as healthy and should only be eaten in moderation.
Fats are fine in moderation...
Olive oil is very useful, may be tastier than margarine and could be better for you! Coconut oil is great for stir fries. Four essential vitamins A,D,E and K are only found in some fats and oils. Please avoid margarine, corn oil and vegetable oil.
Cheese: only in moderation...
It is a very calorific mixture of fat and protein.
Beware of "low fat" foods
They often have sugar or sweeteners added to make them more palatable. Full fat mayonnaise and pesto are definitely on!!
Snacks: avoid, as habit forming
Unsalted nuts such as almonds and walnuts are OK to a 30g max. The occasional treat of strong dark chocolate 70% or more in small quantities is allowed.
Sweeteners and what to drink
Sweeteners have been proven to tease your brain into being even hungrier, making weigh loss more difficult. Avoid fruit juice. Drink tea, coffee, herbal teas or water (100ml of milk is a teaspoon of sugar). Alcoholic drinks are often full of carbohydrate, the odd glass of red wine wouldn't be too bad if it doesn't make you get hungry afterwards - or just plain or sparkling water with a slice of lemon.
Eating lots of veg with protein and healthy fats leaves you properly full in a way that lasts.
Dr. David Unwin's Sugar Infographics
To download Dr. Unwin's A4 summary sheet on getting started on a low-carb diet please click here.
Lou Walker is a Health Coach who promotes the use of low carbohydrate diets. this video is a good introduction to the approach and highlights how much hidden sugar there is in our diets.
Starchy foods: what you need to know if you're trying to cut down on sugar
On medication for Diabetes (apart from Metformin)?
You should check with your GP or Nurse before making a significant change to your diet.
On medication for high blood pressure?
A low carb diet can reduce your blood pressure and you will need to keep an eye on this.
A Low-Carb Diet for Beginners - The Ultimate Guide
Join the Diabetes Community at diabetes.co.uk
Diet Doctor - Low Carb and Keto Made Simple
Ditch the Carbs - Healthy, easy, family recipes
Low Carb for Kids
Low Carb Programme- Sustainable Weight Loss and Blood Glucose Control
Fat is my Friend - Healthy Living Blog
Sugar Equivalent Infographics - Dr David Unwin
For a more detailed look at Lower Carbohydrate Diet please click here.