Bernstein's diet and depression?

I am reading through Bernstein's Diabetes Solutions, and have a question about potential depression. I currently limit my barb intake to no more than 45 g at any meal, so I am always below 100g per day. I am wondering when you drop the carbs to no more than 35 per day, as he recommends, is depression increased?

I already get SAD (seasonal affective disorder, or wintertime depression), and am wondering what I can do other than add pills to keep from getting too depressed. Am I worrying needlessly?

Well… I eat about 60-85 a day, and I feel soooooooo much better. I am no longer as depressed and tired, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as I used to be… It really has done a huge turnaround for me.

Hi there,
My personal experience is that I do best when I ensure I exercise at least 40 mins a day - usually first thing in the morning. (but always with a half dozen jelly beans in my pocket) I think having diabetes really predisposes one to depression anyway so anything we do that has proven efficacy helps. It may sound basic but exercise, diet and positive thoughts always help.

Dropping carbs to 35 g a day seems to have a number of inherent and obvious risks…

Good luck, stay strong and remember there are people out there who go through similar struggles to you and you have their support-albeit from a distance.

So, Bernstein says that morning exercize causes the bg to rise in type 1’s, so he doesn’t recommend it for Type 1’s. Have you found that this happened when you started Dr B’s diet?

Also, did your basal insuiln drop when you dropped your carbs? He says no more than 7 units per injection, but I currently use 8 to 10 during the day and 5 to 6 at night. (we women have monthy hormone changes that alter basal rates.). I am wondering if this will decrease so I can stick to his 7 until rule.

I’ve followed Dr. B’s recommendations for over 2.5 years. I’ve not experienced lowering carbs causing depression. Keeping BG more level appears to have quite the opposite effect. The roller coaster of high carb made me feel physically & emotionally wiped out.

I don’t follow Dr. Bernstein. But I can say that exercising in the morning does NOT increase my BG – just the opposite. And the lower BG lasts throughout the day. And I am T1.

As for depression, as a woman the chances of your becoming depressed due to hormonal fluctuations is increased. It’s more complicated than just blood sugar. If you need meds, take them.

Also as a woman, I’d be wary of a man who says that one should keep basal insulin the same all the time. It just doesn’t work that way for women – you need to follow your own rhythms. I have the same situation with bg being higher at certain times of the month, and then I increase the basal one unit and things work out better all around.

Ultimately, you need to figure out what’s best for you. No doctor of any kind lives in your body and truly knows what you experience. Know yourself.

Morning exercise increased my BG whether following Dr. B or not. This doesn’t have anything to do with what dietary guidelines you’re following, but more a function of diabetes for some people.

What Dr. B means about no more than 7 units per injection relates to absorption problems with larger doses taken at once, as well as the unpredictable nature of insulin over certain doses. It doesn’t mean that anyone shouldn’t take more than 7 units. Take what you need & divide the dose into two separate shots, if needed.

My basal decreased signficantly, along with basal doses, of course.

My question was acutally if your basal rate will drop when you switch to low carb. The comments about hormonal changes were not part of my intended question.

Yes, mine did.

Thanks, Gerri.

I am about half way through the book. His concepts make sense, and I am looking forward to getting started. He has a lot of info to digest in it. I also have the beginings of gastroparesis, I think, and I haven’t read that chapter yet.

A lot of info to process & too much to take in at once! I I’ve re-read his book several times & go back to some chapters.

I have gastroparesis. An added dimension that makes everything much more difficult. I hate it.

I prefer to exercise in the morning, an hour or so after breakfast. My BGs will tend to be more stable throughout the day. It’s great during my long vacations.

This schoolyear is my first on the pump. I’ve had to program a higher basal rate for regular work days whn I’m working out in the evening, and a lower basal rate for the weekend and holidays when I can get my morning workouts in.

Some people have a hard time in the first two weeks or so adjusting. During this time your body is still using glucose for energy and you are adapting to burning fat. You can feel weak, fatigued, tired. Whether this involves depression, I can’t tell you.

At the very least, if you try and get depressed, you can always just have a 45 g meal.

I focus on the BG numbers. If I am hitting my target at 40-55 grams a day then I have done my job. I think its finding that right median where you feel comfortable and your BG is where your target is. I am a T-2 and shoot for my fastings between 70-100.

Right now though I am having a hard time with huge after-meal spikes and some of my fastings even with Dr B so I will be talking to the Doc about a mealtime insulin.

I started Dr. Bs diet about 3 months ago. When I first read the book I was so ecstatic that someone finally said I could beat the side effects, that any traces of depression from years previous or underlying self doubt went out the window. I, like you have been at this for many years.I however havent ever been able to get good grip on control. I just went and did an AIC Now test and was 5.8. Im curious to see what the lab I normally use says. The ability to attain super tight control and know that with that control I can subdue D really gives me a positive outlook. This may wear off after a while but it feels great now.

I went through a bit (a year or more) of depression post my eye surgeries, but nothing chronic like winter-depression. I would think that the empowerment of uber tight control would help, but do not know the effects of the reduction of carbohydrates on chemical imbalances of that nature. You might want to check and see if a 5-10,000u prescription of Vitamin D would help at all.

Can I ask a question to the Bernstein followers? What is the reason he recommends low carb. I take about 30-45g per meal and have pretty good control (A1C of 5.6). If I am controlling it well, what are the benefits of very low carb?


I don’t think it’s worrying…first of all. You’re curious about the effects this change could have on your health and general well being.

I did the Bernstein approach about a year ago and in the beginning I didn’t find myself to be any more depressed than normal. :slight_smile: I did lose a bunch of energy at first, but that slowly came back. And just like a lot of “fad diets,” I started to realize how impossible it was to live this way all the time. 12g of carbs per meal!!! I kept finding myself saying, “That means I’ll never be able to…” And that’s a really crummy feeling.

So I don’t know if there is necessarily a carb/depression connection. But I found a connection between constantly witholding and depression.

I think each of us has our own way that works for us. Some folks can attain great control with exercise and medication on top of diet alone. Others need a more regulated method of control. Still others can control their BGs with single tests a month, and some just dont control at all.

This line, “I kept finding myself saying, “That means I’ll never be able to…” And that’s a really crummy feeling.” sums up Diabetes for me. Well that and the underlying feeling that I was just waiting for the side effects to set in.

Me personally, I dont mind not being able to eat potatoes or other starches if it means I can have super tight control. Giving up some foods is a small price to pay for me being able to watch my kids grow up with out the side effects of D. Thats where Im at. For some people, this is the method of control is what that works best for us with the A1Cs to prove it.

I think you find it takes lots of trial and error to find the level that works for you. When you first start a low carb diet you will go through a period of adjustment. This can last several months. Many of my meals I try to keep between 10 and 15 carbs especially in the morning because of DP. I do spike if I exercise in the morning so I try to do it in the afternoon or evening. I have lost all my weight so now I am eating a few more natural carbs to stabalise my weight.

Controlling diabetes is limiting the swings between high & low. A1c only tells part of the picture since it’s an average. People can have the same A1c with vastly different numbers. Having a low standard deviation is important. Not saying that you don’t have good control:)

Low carb=correspondingly less insulin, smaller daily doses. Smaller doses allow for easier corrections of highs & lows because the error isn’t as great.

Low carb also improves lipid profiles. Many studies show that it’s excess carbs that’s responsible for contributing to heart disease, not dietary fat. Grain based, high carb diets have been linked to other diseases as well.