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Customizing the Diet Chapter 5 – Part 3

The Diabetes Diet
Richard K. Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN, FACCWS
Part 3 of Chapter 5
Customizing the Diet
“Fast-acting, concentrated carbohydrate is the ultimate heart-attack food, particularly for those with a sedentary lifestyle.”

Slow-Acting Carbohydrate

As I have mentioned before, the distinction often made between “complex” and “simple” carbohydrates is essentially meaningless, if not foolish. There are fast-acting carbohydrates— starches and sugars that break down rapidly and have a consequent rapid effect on blood sugars — and there are slow-acting carbohydrates. Generally, slow-acting carbohydrate comes from whole-plant vegetables (and others listed on page 77). They are predominantly indigestible fiber accompanied by some small amount of digestible carbohydrate and vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, but have relatively little effect on blood sugars. The foods in the following list are slow-acting carbohydrate foods. These can constitute the building blocks of the carbohydrate portion of each meal. Of course you needn’t limit your foods to these — many other such building blocks can be selected, depending on your personal preferences.

Read labels on packaged foods, consult nutrition tables for carbohydrate values of foods you like, check your blood sugars, and find out which foods work for you.

Equivalent to approximately 6 grams of carbohydrate per serving

• 6 Worthington Stripples or Morningstar Farms Breakfast Strips (meatless soy bacon) (also contains 1 ounce protein)
• 3 Morningstar Farms Breakfast Links (meatless soy sausage) (also contains 2 ounces protein)
• 1H Bran-a-Crisp crackers
• 2 GG crispbreads
• 1 Wasa Fiber Rye cracker
• 4H ounces Erivan, Brown Cow Farm, or Stonyfield Farm whole-milk unflavored yogurt (8 ounces contains 11 grams carbohydrate and 2 ounces protein)
• 1 cup mixed salad with oil-and-vinegar (not balsamic) dressing
• O cup cooked slow-acting carbohydrate vegetable — zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, etc. (see The List on page 77)
• 1 serving Jell-O sugar-free pudding made with water or water and 1 tablespoon cream
• H small avocado (3 ounces)

Equivalent to approximately 12 grams of carbohydrate per serving

• 1 cup mixed salad with oil-and-vinegar (not balsamic) dressing, plus O cup cooked green vegetable (from page 77)
• 1 cup mixed salad prepared with 4 tablespoons packaged dressing (if each tablespoon contains 1.5 grams of carbohydrate)
• 8 ounces Erivan, Brown Cow Farm, or Stonyfield Farm whole-milk unflavored yogurt (contains 11 grams of carbohydrate plus 2 ounces protein)

These lists slightly exaggerate the carbohydrate content of salad and cooked vegetables, but because of their bulk and the Chinese Restaurant Effect, the net effect upon blood sugar is approximately equivalent to the amounts of carbohydrate shown. To this slow-acting carbohydrate, we’d add an amount of protein that, in your initial opinion, would allow you to leave the table feeling comfortable but not stuffed.

As with carbohydrate, it is necessary to keep the size of the protein portion at a particular meal constant from one day to the next, so if you eat 6 ounces at lunch one day, you should have 6 ounces at lunch the next. This is especially important if you’re taking blood sugar–lowering medications. As noted earlier, there are about 6 grams of real protein in an ounce of a protein food. So when you are using tables of food values in creating your own Diabetes Diet meal plans, remember to divide grams of protein by 6 to get the equivalent ounces of protein food. To estimate by eye, a cooked portion the size of a deck of playing cards or a small can of tuna fish weighs about 3 ounces (red meats weigh about 3.7 ounces because of their greater density).

Protein foods with virtually no carbohydrate

• Beef, lamb, veal
• Chicken, turkey, duck
• Most cold cuts (bologna, salami, etc.)
• Fish and shellfish (fresh or canned)
• Most frankfurters
• Pork (ham, chops, bacon, etc.)
• Most sausages

Protein foods with a small amount of carbohydrate
(0.6–1 gram carbohydrate per ounce of protein)

• Eggs (one egg is equivalent to 1 ounce protein plus 0.6 gram carbohydrate); include the carbohydrate content when calculating the carbohydrate portion
of a meal
• Cheeses (other than cottage cheese); the 1 gram of carbohydrate per ounce found in most cheeses should be included when computing the carbohydrate
portion of a meal

Soy products (up to 6 grams carbohydrate per ounce of protein — check nutrition label on package)

• Veggie burgers
• Tofu
• Meatless bacon
• Meatless sausage
• Other soy substitutes (for fish, chicken, and so on)

If you have a rare disorder called familial dyslipidemia, where dietary fat actually can increase LDL, restrictions on certain types of dietary fats may be appropriate.

We would like to thank the publisher Little Brown and Company and Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, for allowing us to provide excerpts from The Diabetes Diet.

Copyright © 2005 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Author’s Note:
This book is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. The reader should regularly consult a physician for all health-related problems and routine care.

For more information on Dr. Bernstein’s and to purchase his books, CD’s or get access to his free monthly webinars, visit his website at