ADA Diet, Low-Carb, or Vegan? What gives?! Which diet should be right for you?

Lately, I’ve been perusing different forum sites, to find the most support I can for my Diabetes, and I have noticed just how preachy we can get sometimes, as diabetics, about what has worked for us to attain control. It’s not surprising. We really get excited, and we all want to let the world know about our new diet, or exercise routine, bolusing or med schedule.

We often think that what we are doing for ourselves, since it has worked wonders, needs to automatically apply for the rest of the diabetic population. And boy, what a BIG mistake that is! This is one of the faults I find with many diet lifestyle books that preach that all people should adhere to said diet, without very many disclaimers or other indications. If it’s one valuable thing that I have learned from speaking to many diabetics, is that we are all different, and at different stages of our Diabetes progression. Every person with Diabetes responds differently to diets, medications, treatments, and exercise. And, in some people, Diabetes may progress more quickly than in others, so even what is working now, may not necessarily work 10 years from now.

So what do we do with all this information? Perhaps keep an open mind. Maybe an ADA style diet works today, but with time it may not work so well, and we may have to start consuming less carbohydrates. Learning, and keeping an open mind to dietary changes, helps us be prepared when we are thrown a new curve ball in our fight with Diabetes, and helps keep complications at bay.

There has been much debate between people who want to preach a low-carb diet, versus people who want to preach a vegan diet. In all earnest, from what I have learned, both diets can be useful at different stages of Diabetes progression. A low carb diet can, indeed, help keep blood glucose levels under control, and keep many complications at bay, but as the illness progresses, making a switch to a more restrictive vegan lifestyle might be the way to go. I will not hold anyone at fault for making this choice. I will say, though, that dietary lifestyle changes are best managed one step at a time, and in response to our regular blood glucose levels, and other disease progression indicators. If my body, today, could handle more than 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, I would gladly consume them. Following an unnecessarily restrictive diet, when your body is already responding well to your current lifestyle, could be a recipe for failure and disaster for many (i.e., recurring binge eating episodes, or entirely giving up on making any changes, and facing harsh complications and consequences.) Our minds tend to work to defeat us, with all those ‘just this once’ suggestions. We all know how “well” we’ve done in all those battle of the bulge, fad diets, we may have done in the past. lol

So while I salute a lower carb, or at least (portion controlled carb intake) lifestyle, for having taught me the perils of eating refined carbs (lack of fullness, constant hunger, damage to beta cells and increase in insulin resistance), I will keep my mind open to all possibilities of good health, and yes, even restrictive veganism. After all, it’s not so much the food that matters… but the people we want to spend time with, and the things we want to do. Believe me, if my current diet no longer worked, I would eat twigs every day if it meant I could spend more years with my husband and family. I am betting you would, too. :wink:


I was using a modified diabetic WW diet plan a year ago and found that to be very helpful, then changed to a lo carb diet…not as good, but livable for my family and myself. Now I am at a point where lo carbs are even causing a weight gain, and since my goals are to keep BS numbers in control and lose about 50 more lbs, I have modified both to be a lo carb/WW program for myself. It’s got lots of vegies in it, very little red meat, and snacks that are high fiber, lo calorie. My numbers are once again evening out, but as Judith said, to make a cook book for each of us and our diabetes, would be a challenge.

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I find that approach to be best, Cathy… to just take benefits from a few dietary lifestyles, and modify them as we need to, and as our health indicates. :slight_smile: That stuff will never be an exact science.

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So nice to read this. I have had diabetes for 47 years and have complications that include my heart and gastrointestinal. I tried a Dean Ornish reversing heart disease diet last summer - dry low fat and protein exclusively from nonmeat sources. Carbs became the dominant source of calories and I couldn’t seem to control sugars. But the low carb/higher protein and fat doesn’t seem good either. Balance the two. Yay. Thank you!

You found the answer, your blood glucose meter won’t tell you nonsense about what you eat. It will tell you how much carb can work for you :slight_smile:

People can call what the meter says is OKAY, anything they want to. Just as long as it’s nutritious and the weight and BG is good

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Jack, I just read through some of your posts…really interesting. Thank you for sharing. We are leaving now to go off internet range for a few days, but I’ll look at this more when we get home. Thanks again. Kim

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The real cause of diabetes is not caused so much by the food we eat, but by the breakdown in clearing metabolism.

I keep referring to your kind words, Jack. Thank you.

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I’m confused by some of the comments here. First, people may have different objectives. For example, some may be on a vegetarian diet because of objections to slaughtering animals for food. Or they may feel that meat products, particularly those fed on grains and dosed with antibiotics, are not healthful for reasons other than weight loss and diabetic control. Certainly objections worthy of consideration.

For years, I’ve used the books of Dr. Richard Bernstein for my own diabetes. That doesn’t mean I’ve been able to follow everything. My read on his approach is 1. very low carbs, 2. protein to meet body requirements, but limited enough for weight loss if that’s your goal and 3. enough fat to give satiety and prevent hunger.

Granted, many will say that is too severe and will use a bit looser control and take a bit more insulin. And they’re able to make that work for them. But I can’t see and have not seen that Bernstein’s approach works for a while and then stops working — anyone have examples? I think there are examples where people loosen up after a while and eat too much protein and stop losing weight, for example. But apparently Dr. Bernstein has many patients that stay on this diet for a lifetime.

Finally, I am not a diet evangelist. I’ll tell people what I do if they’re interested, but don’t try to tell them what they are supposed to do. Works for me!


Recent changes in meds have made it possible for me to eat higher carb than I thought possible in the two years since diagnosis.

I think one thing I understand better now is refined carbs are not natural to begin with and should be avoided.

Silly me to ever have thought its all about diet… Without the walk or exercise, its no deal, numbers SUCK!