Living with diabetes blog

Dr. Bernstein diet and beyond

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. July 8, 2011

I'd like to respond to some of the feedback we've been receiving about the topic of carbohydrates and their place in your diet. I'm not a dietitian, so I've consulted with Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D., a Mayo Clinic dietitian, who says, "The American Diabetes Association generally recommends that around 50 percent of the calories in your diet come from carbohydrates — preferably healthy carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruit. Lean proteins or fat-free dairy and healthy fats should make up the rest of the calories."

The Dr. Bernstein diet, which has been mentioned in some comments, is low-carbohydrate and calorie restrictive. In some cases, it proposes limiting calories to 800 to 1350 a day. The program also includes behavior modification, education and vitamins and mineral supplements. People with diabetes who follow the Dr. Bernstein diet are required to do intensive management of their diabetes, including blood glucose testing five to eight times a day. The main function of Dr. Bernstein's diet for those who have diabetes is to maintain constant, near-normal blood glucose levels — desirable for anyone with diabetes. Good glucose control can reduce or prevent the chronic complications of diabetes such as nerve damage, kidney damage, eye disease and heart disease risks.

When carbohydrates are reduced, you must make up the difference in fat and proteins. Consuming total daily calories at an amount needed to maintain a healthy weight is key and, over the long run, is probably more important than diet composition.

Can good glucose control be achieved on a traditional diet? It most certainly can. Good glucose control involves paying close attention to the balancing act of healthy eating, insulin use (and diabetes medications, if required), exercise and blood glucose monitoring.

Good diabetes management takes self-direction and work, no matter how it's achieved.

According to Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D., "The bottom line is to find a healthy eating plan that works for you lifelong."

Thanks, Jennifer. And, I hope you all have a good week.


Jul. 08, 2011