Home / For Your Practice / For Your Patients / Patient Resources / Customizing the Diet Chapter 5 – Part 6

Customizing the Diet Chapter 5 – Part 6

Sep 16, 2015

The Diabetes Diet
Richard K. Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN, FACCWS
Part 6 of Chapter 5
Customizing the Diet
“Fast-acting, concentrated carbohydrate is the ultimate heart-attack food, particularly for those with a sedentary lifestyle.”


Most people are creatures of habit and tend to eat the same thing every day for breakfast or lunch. I’ve had patients who have eaten the same toasted bialy for twenty years for breakfast, the same ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. In my experience, most of the variation people have in their diet comes at dinner. But let’s start with breakfast. In my experience, bacon-and-egg people tend to eat bacon and eggs almost every day, maybe varying somewhat on weekends. Cereal people tend to eat cereal every day, even if they happen to change brands or flavors. Same with bagel people.

One of the problems with most of the popular lowcarb diets on the market these days is that they introduce “habits” you would never take up on your own and then, just as you get used to them, move on to a new phase with different foods. So during phase one you might have vegetable juice, a protein food like liquid egg substitute or Canadian bacon, and coffee or tea. But most of the popular diets change to phase two after weight loss has been attained. This usually involves reverting to an approximation of old habits, such as those in the first paragraph. This is certainly not a way to keep blood sugars normal or to prevent recurrence of carbohydrate craving.

Right off the top, you know that I wouldn’t recommend skim milk or vegetable juice, and I would recommend liquid egg substitute only if that was something you liked.

So, what do you like to eat?

There was a time in the American consciousness when fixing a meal was as simple as putting together a serving of protein, one of starch, and one of vegetables, with perhaps a side of salad and a small dessert. That standard menu —a piece of meat next to mashed potatoes, green beans, and tossed salad — made meal planning a simple proposition.

What I’m advocating is really as easy to conceive as the old meat, potatoes, vegetable, salad picture — just leave out the potato.

While the columns of numbers in the typical meal plans that follow may seem a little intimidating at first, in truth, once you become accustomed to the guidelines, putting together a meal — without having to consult a cookbook for every meal — becomes a simple process.


Follow the same guidelines for lunch as for breakfast, with the exception that the carbohydrate content may be doubled, up to 12 grams.

Say, for example, that you and your friends go to lunch every day at the “greasy spoon” around the corner from work and are served only sandwiches. You might try discarding the slices of bread and eating the filling — meat, turkey, cheese, or other protein food — with a knife and fork. (If you choose cheese, remember to count 1 gram carbohydrate per ounce.) You could also order a hamburger without the bun. And instead of ketchup, you could use mustard, soy sauce, or other carbohydrate-free condiments.

You then might add 11/3 cups cooked vegetable from The List, page 77 (12 grams carbohydrate), or 2 cups of salad with vinegar-and-oil dressing (12 grams of carbohydrate) to round out your meal.

If you want to create a lunch menu from scratch, use your food value books to look up foods that interest you. If you like sandwiches, try the Cheese Puff Sandwich recipe on page 172.

The following building blocks may be helpful in giving you a start.

For the protein portion, one of the following

• A small can of tuna fish contains 31/4 ounces by weight in the United States. If you’re packing your lunch, this can be quite convenient if you like tuna. The next larger size can contains 6 ounces. The tastiest canned tuna I’ve tried is made by Progresso, packed in olive oil.
• 4 standard slices of packaged pasteurized process American cheese (process cheddar in the U.K.) weigh about 3 ounces. This will contain 3 ounces of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrate.

For about 12 grams carbohydrate, one of the following

• 11/4 cups cooked vegetables (from page 77).
• 2 cups mixed green salad, with 1 slice of tomato and vinegar-and-oil dressing. Sprinkling bacon bits or grated cheese will have negligible additional blood sugar effect.
• 11/2 cups salad, as above, but with 3 tablespoons of commercial salad dressing (other than simple vinegarand-oil) containing 1 gram of carbohydrate per tablespoon.

Check the label.

You might decide that 2 cups of salad with vinegarand-oil dressing is fine for the carbohydrate portion of your lunch. You then should decide how much protein must be added to keep you satisfied. One person might be happy with a 31/4-ounce can of tuna fish, but another might require 2 large chicken drumsticks or a packet of lunch meat weighing 6 ounces. For dessert, you might want some cheese (in the European tradition) or perhaps some sugar-free Jell-O gelatin (if it contains no maltodextrin) covered with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. You might consider some of the desserts described in Part Two. The possible combinations are endless; just use your food value books or read labels for estimating protein and carbohydrate. Some people, after having routinely eaten the same thing for years, discover that their new meal plan opens up culinary possibilities they never knew existed.

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 DiabetesBook.com.