The Diabetes Diet
Richard K. Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN, FACCWS
Part 8 of Chapter 5
Customizing the Diet
“Fast-acting, concentrated carbohydrate is the ultimate heart-attack food, particularly for those with a sedentary lifestyle.”
CREATING YOUR OWN MEAL PLANS
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.
SOME TYPICAL MEAL PLANS
The following are typical meal plans covering 3 days. Note that the protein portions that this hypothetical person negotiated are 5 ounces for breakfast, 8 ounces for lunch, and 8 ounces for dinner. She is also following the 6-12-12 guidelines for carbohydrate.
To nearly any one of these meals you could add as a dessert a H-cup serving of sugar-free Jell-O brand gelatin (without maltodextrin) or a diet soda popsicle, neither of which would appreciably affect your carbohydrate and protein targets. Again, you’re limited only by your imagination, and there are countless different meals you can create that
add up to 6 or 12 grams of carbohydrate and the portion of protein you negotiate for yourself.
Remember, however, that the amount of protein for a given meal should be the same from one day to another and likewise, of course, for carbohydrate.
KEEPING A FOOD DIARY
The diary on the following page is an adaptation of a template available in Microsoft Excel. If you’re handy with Excel, you can create a daily or weekly plan that automatically adds up the amounts of carbohydrate and protein in the foods you eat at each meal. You don’t need to get that fancy. You can use a piece of paper or just your memory. It’s as easy as 6 + 12 + 12. Keeping a record is a good idea, however you do it, because when you find the amount of protein that satisfies you and that also allows you to lose weight if you need to (see next chapter) and to maintain normal blood sugars, you’ll want to keep the numbers as steady as possible.
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.
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.