How strict are you in your diet?

John Crowley
By John Crowley Latest Reply 2014-01-17 21:09:48 -0600
Started 2008-03-12 04:40:26 -0500

So when my son was diagnosed, we were basically taught that "what" we ate was not as important as counting the carbs in what he ate. Honestly, we changed very little in our diet after his diagnosis. We became experts at counting carbs and his control was always quite good. However, more recently I've been reading about the glycemic index and wondering if we've done a disservice to our son.

So I'm wondering how strict other families/diabetics are in their diet. What do you do? How do you monitor and choose?

36 replies

GabbyPA 2014-01-17 21:09:48 -0600 Report

I know I have much more success when I am more strict on my carb intake and the balance of good whole foods for my diet. Reading labels scares me into whole foods honestly.

You guys did what you were taught, like so many of us. My diet is always moving and shifting in my striving to find the balance that gets me to goal.

caspersmama 2008-11-08 08:34:30 -0600 Report

I have just become more conscious of what I am eating. I was able to come off of insulin this week and I am doing great. I feel better than I have in years. I have lost 4 pounds and I am in the best control I have been in years. But for me it has become smarter choices. Instead of pasta this week, I chose spaghetti squash, my bread I have changed to pumpernickle rye. Makes the best toast with a little honey. I am enjoying thinking about food again before it was I had to eat because of the insulin, now I can have a healthy snack and be ok. That is the best. I even treated myself to an iced cappucino and stayed within range.

tira 2008-11-08 07:32:13 -0600 Report

i wanted to make my daily calorie 1200kcal/l, but most of the time i'll b eating extra cals : eg : peanuts, biscuits, coffee. i just cnt stand my day w/o those 3 things. my daily coffee will b 3 cups per day, 1 cup is decaffeinated, biscuits sometimes will c exchange with bread ( i hate rye/fibred bread, taste gross), and the peanuts, i just love peanuts since i dont get pimples break out!,

Avera 2008-10-21 09:33:07 -0500 Report

I think that the most helpful thing for my family was to grocery shop with me and help me while they learned about new ingrediants I needed to add to my diet. We tried to choose for the whole family.

Lee Ann - 22107
Lee Ann - 22107 2008-10-21 07:50:15 -0500 Report

I think the glycemic index is useless. Foods seem to affect people differently. For example, I've heard some people say oatmeal destroys their BG, while others don't have any issues.

I eat all the foods I like in moderation, heavy on the whole grains, produce and lean protein. I also eat desserts/sweets pretty close to everyday. I weigh it or I use single serve packages, and I'm very careful to not over-indulge. My A1c is great, I'm slim and my weight is stable.

I think the way you've been doing things is great, especially for a kid. Having foods labeled "good" and "bad" when I was a kid really screwed up my relationship with food, and it took a lot of years to undo that damage. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

So few people seem to acknowledge and work with the psychological side of food and eating. Yes, technically, food is only necessary for life, but there are a lot of emotional and social issues that are inextricable, and they should be taken into account. When that gets ignored, especially when it's a kid, that's just asking for trouble.

tmana 2008-10-21 08:10:31 -0500 Report

One thing David Mendosa said in his early posts on Glycemic Index is that people react differently to different foods, and that we really need to figure out our own personal Glycemic Indices. He also mentioned the idea of Glycemic Load — which explains how eating a high GI food in conjunction with a low GI food can lessen the spike from the high GI food; also, how a smaller serving of that food may not affect you as seriously as a larger serving.

A lot of this ends up similar to Toma's PCF factor, but going about it from a different direction.

As far as "good" and "bad" foods, there is very little that will make Reese's Peanut Butter Cups "good" from a health point of view, and there is very little that will make fresh broccoli "bad" from a health point of view (ok, yeah, you can make it "bad" if you drown it in butter and salt the heck out of it). This does not mean that you are evil if you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and you hate broccoli (unless maybe it's drowned in butter and salt?)… It does mean that you need to take ownership of your dietary decisions, eat the correct amount of calories for your size, weight, and activity level, and (if on insulin) bolus appropriately for whatever it is you are eating. (Note that those of us not on insulin have less freedom to eat unhealthy foods and foods that spike our blood glucose levels, since we do not have a method of quick correction… on the other hand, most of us are less likely to spike quite as badly as those of you who are T1.)

Lee Ann - 22107
Lee Ann - 22107 2008-10-21 08:27:53 -0500 Report

I'm speaking strictly about a T1 child. How a T2 adult manages diet is an entirely different issue, and one that I have no personal experience with. From a psychological standpoint, it can be very damaging to label foods as "good" and "bad". Children should be taught to understand that different foods have different nutritional qualities, and it's important to eat a variety. Making value judgments about foods can be just as harmful as making value judgments about BG readings. If a child eats and enjoys a food that someone has taught him is "bad", then it's likely that child will internalize that judgment, and end up feeling bad because s/he likes something bad. It's a rotten burden to put on a child, and you can't reason or explain the nuances to a human being whose brain isn't developed enough to have advanced reasoning skills.

Toma 2008-10-20 04:09:51 -0500 Report

the whole concept of counting carbs can be difficult to get accurate. I track far more than just the carbs but it needs good software to be able to accomplish. I do it with software and Ed at Cybersoft that makes the software i use has allowed me to offer a 14 day evaluation copy of the software with my book. If you want to try the software you can download the free evaluation copy at

The software allows you to easily and accurately balance the protein, carbohydrates and fats but it still takes some understanding of what good carbs, fats and proteins are.

Ani 2008-09-18 08:39:15 -0500 Report

I really dont know how to count carbs so alli do is eat most of my carbs in the morning so I have enough time to burn them off. then through out the day I do my best to stay away from carbs. I was wondering if you could tell me how to count carbs.

Christine - 14521
Christine - 14521 2008-05-14 06:55:57 -0500 Report

I have been diabetic since I was 12 and it is very difficult for the young to deal with diet and shots. I have found out 5 years ago how important it is to watch carbs. I was told stay away from bread and potatoes. They are the carbs that raise your sugar fast. But, if diet is watched carefully, you can have a handful of chips every once in awhile.

glodic7 2008-05-13 13:19:34 -0500 Report

good for you continue to keep up withh new developments for you son .The glycemec iis very important.
i've rade lately that fiber is one of the most important keys to good health.After all we can all eat healthy and feel better.I'm a quaderapalegic with type 2 diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
p.s. My docters expected me to die about 13 years ago.Not!!-thank you lord!

John Crowley
John Crowley 2008-05-13 07:10:46 -0500 Report

Thanks to everyone who responded. It seems that the glycemic index isn't necessarily a big part of most people's diet routine. But that it can be a part of understanding what certain foods do (which is the key to good control).

I'm still intrigued by the concept and plan to study it further.

Toma 2008-05-10 07:22:26 -0500 Report

I am a type 2 diabetic and I am very strict. I agree with you that counting carbs is not the best way to go.

Just counting carbs is only one of many factors in good dietary control.

PCF ratio is more important than carb counting. The PCF ratio is the amount of calories from each of the three basic food categories. All foods contain at least one if not all three of these groups. They are protein Carbohydrate and fat.

If what is eaten is all carb (highly unlikely unless it is sugar or another refined carb) The total amount of carbs will be pretty irrelevant.

There are two elements here.

1. The absorption of carbs is slowed and moderated by the amount of fat and protein that is consumed with the carb as well as other factors that can slow conversion of carbohydrates to blood glucose such as acis such as vinegar and citic acids. (Which are coincidentally also carbs)

2. Contrary to what ADA has been saying for years, carbs act quite differently in the body.

Examples of how carbs are different:

Dietary Fiber slows the absorption and conversion of carbs to blood glucose.

Apple Cider Vinegar (100% carb) lowers the glycemic response of other foods.

Other starches and sugars raise blood glucose are quite different rates. (Verifiable independently on your BG meter)

Glucose raises blood glucose very quickly but not as fast as a baked russet potato or some varieties of white rice.

tmana 2008-05-10 11:17:30 -0500 Report

I'm Type 2, which may or may not be an issue here. What I find important is, as long as I am stable, to eat whole foods to the greatest degree possible: limit or eliminate refined flour, minimize refined sugar, avoid high fructose corn syrup. And also avoiding hydrogenated oils. Beyond that, it's watching portions, overall calories, and overall percentage of calories coming from proteins and fats. As long as I pay reasonable attention, I'm pretty safe.

Scott Dunton
Scott Dunton 2008-05-03 16:29:58 -0500 Report

I have talked with so many people about this, I have come to this…
Eat whatever you want. Just count the carbs, life sucks when all think about is the food that you cant have. Its hard to grow up like that. I did it for the first couple months after being diagnosed and I think its the main number one reason why I was depressed the first year. I was so bummed that everyone else I knew could eat anything and I couldnt. I dont think you have done anything wrong with your son I think that you have done him the worlds biggest favor.

BrookeT 2008-05-02 12:53:38 -0500 Report

I was diagnose 16 years ago and back then if I wanted a candy bar I had to skip dinner. What kind of a choice is that? I had so many taboo foods that I rebelled and instead of following those taboos I ate everything in site. That is what I call a disservice. Now I teach my daughter how to eat everything in moderation and nothing is taboo. Sounds like you've done a great job.

patti 2008-05-01 23:18:11 -0500 Report

I have been insulin dependent for 5-6 years, diabetic since 96. I basically eat what I want just cut out all my chocolate and sweets but have always excersized and maintained my weight. I do have at time some sharp drops dont even know im dropping till i am in the 20's. so now i carry a bottle of sugar water when i run in the am only way to keep my sugars up. tried adjusting my insulin but not helping some days my glucose will be 70-80 in the am.. i eat a good breakfast but its not enough to keep me up while running. so if anyone has great ideas let me know… sorry for the rough typing just had surgery on my right hand …and yes im right handed…lol

Joanne Di Napoli
Joanne Di Napoli 2008-04-03 11:52:36 -0500 Report

Having been diagnosed with Type I 35 years ago when there was no glucose monitoring and carb counting, I went by what I was eating (food groups) calories and had to weigh everything (moderation). I think that it is fabulous that you and you son have mastered carb counting so well and that he is in great control. I do firmly believe that you are what you eat. For the long haul, I think you need to consider not just how many carbs, and adjusting the insulin accordingly, but what you are eating so that you are getting the proper nutrients. Also, if one does not want to gain weight they do need to consider what types of carbs they are eating and how much. - especially one gets older and if you are not able to get as much exercise as you desire or need.

Jon - 13563
Jon - 13563 2008-03-13 11:44:58 -0500 Report

I was told by our CDE and endo that my son can eat whatever he wants as long as we count the carbs. They always seemed shocked at the number of carbs he would consume though. When his bg runs high, he craves more carbs. I have noticed that different types of food affect him differently though. Pizza is a real challenge, but I think we have mastered it.

Jonathan - 13553
Jonathan - 13553 2008-03-13 12:26:43 -0500 Report

Pizza used to be a big problem for me (I gave it up. It was not worth the effort.) I needed square boluses that were 50%-100% longer than for other foods, and much higher. So many carbs (particularly thick crust), and all the fat from the cheese and oil just make it so difficult. I do miss it, though.

Ginacaps 2008-03-14 02:33:22 -0500 Report

pizza was a challenge for me too and then i did dual bolus with the pump and it worked like a charm. i still stay away though

Melissa Dawn
Melissa Dawn 2008-04-02 05:15:55 -0500 Report

I got a pump and still haven't learned how to use the square bolus. I eliminated pizza long ago and miss it… someday I intend to figure that one out again.

Jonathan - 13553
Jonathan - 13553 2008-03-13 07:17:16 -0500 Report

John: For so many years I was not that strict about it and never focused on carb counting. In the last year and a half, I've gone to a fairly strict diet and exercise regimen. Even when trying to be very strict, though, I still "indulge" — I think that's a better word than "cheat". But, at least now I have a better idea about the carb value of my indulgence, so I can bolus appropriately.
For many years, my medical team talked to me about the perils of "cheating" on my diet. It was only until recently that the discussions began to recognize that everyone — whether a PWD or not — eats unhealthy foods, at least every once in a while. Having the medical team talk about "cheating" only added to the negative feelings about being a PWD in the first place, which, unfortunately, led to more comfort foods to ease the feeling.
To me, knowledge is everything — and that realization came to me very late. But, armed with the knowledge of the caloric and carb content of my food, I do not worry about indulging every once in a while, because I know how to handle it and keep the BG under reasonable control.

Lizbrei 2008-03-13 06:48:18 -0500 Report

Hi John,
I became Type 1 about three years ago and the first thing I did was start a food journal to keep track of what I ate, what carb count I determined and how it effected my readings. Over time I became more aware of how I reacted to different foods. I still keep a journal and review it now and then to see if I can tweak my routine more. It has really helped me feel more in control. I hope this helps :)

Ninjabetic 2008-03-13 05:42:51 -0500 Report

I was never good about sticking to my diet at all. Now that I am older and am trying to lose weight I am really strict with my diet.

I have been on Weight Watchers for a months now and have been doing pretty good. I am at 38 pounds lost so far!

Ginacaps 2008-03-13 06:48:32 -0500 Report

for the past weeks i have been so strict it is scary, my blood sugars are the best they have been in 7 yrs

I have been feeling great and sticking to it.

Breakfast oatmeal or english muffin
mid breakfast yogurt
lunch, baby spinach, mushroom, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes
mid afternoon cottage cheese
dinner chicken or soup and veggies and 30-45 carbs
night snack polly o string cheese or nutts or fruit

here is a sample of my blood sugars from yesterday
7am 117
840am 92
1045am 91
1pm 118
230pm 93
435pm 101

Ginacaps 2008-03-13 06:49:33 -0500 Report

oh yea, writing down everything definatly keeps you more aware of what you are doing from day to day and i noticed when i write down my blood sugars tend to be better from it.

william evans
william evans 2008-04-19 09:24:59 -0500 Report

great job. Was the carb count (30-45 ) for supper or the whole day?

because i work out pretty vigorously 2-3 hrs ) if I stay that tight i have to watch that i don't crash either during or shortly after exercise. Generally, i take a couple of 4 gram sugar tabs just before I start ( convulsions are ugly )


Melissa Dawn
Melissa Dawn 2008-03-13 05:31:55 -0500 Report

I've been managing my diabetes for 14 years now. There have been few times when my doctor has marked my condition as "uncontrolled". As far as diet goes, I too use a basic procedure of carb counting. I've also learned that certain foods and my diabetes control don't mix (fast foods or other high fat content foods).

I don't think I've ever been told by my doctor that I can't eat certain foods — they always just tell me to be sure to count my carbs. Some of the foods I've eliminated have just been a personal choice. It was easier to manage without.

CALpumper 2008-03-13 02:37:44 -0500 Report

Hi John. I was diagnosed back in the '80s. The first thing they told my parents was "Watch what she eats!!! Not a lot of sugar and we are not talking just about candy."

For the longest time certain foods were tagged "cheating" and the damper that put on my as a kid growing up took a tool, especially in school, during birthdays etc.

About 7 years ago it was no longer about "cheating". That phrase was being phased out. It not became all about carb counting. Before this I was very interested in the glycemic index. Let me calm your nerves if just a bit. My diabetes educator at the time helped me understand this index for me individually. Each person deals/handles types of foods differently. My glycemic index issues are real potatoes, pasta, bread and pizza. I am better off staying away from watermelon also. Between my educator, my endo and myself (trial and error life here) I figured out what works and what doesn't.

You are not doing your son a disservice. As he grows up he will be able to tell you what works and doesn't, what affects his blood sugar levels and how much.

Hang in there!