My father who will turn 85 next month was just diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. He’s blind so, he can’t read any information to educate himself about the disease. Well, my mother gave me a call this morning asking if he could eat some figs. I told her that figs are very high in carbs. One large fig is 15 carbs according to the Calorie King Book.

I have Type I diabetes and naturally we are treated differently. I’m on a pump and he is on Metformin (I think). I’m not sure how to help him with the food he eats. So I need your help.

Here’s my question…How do Type II’s count their food???

I count carbs, and it has been working wonders for me. My doctor recommended sticking to 60g or less per meal. I started out eating little to none after I was first diagnosed, and worked my up until I found a tolerable level that doesn’t send me soaring. I was given a diet by one doctor that got my sugar down in a hurry. He claimed he wrote it in back in the 60s, has been giving it to every Type II patient he comes across ever since. He also said that it is a diet that should really work for anyone & keep them healthy their entire life. It is as follows:

Very, very limited quantities bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, rice.

Limit servings of dairy.

Limited quantities of Red meat, pork, & eggs. Stick to lean meats like chicken, turkey, or fish. Just make sure its grilled, baked, boiled, or broiled (not fried).

If you have to fry anything, try to use olive oil or one of the Smart Choice Omega 3 products.

All you can eat of raw or cooked salad vegetables & greens. Sweet potatoes are fine too.

Limited quantities of fruit. Eat fresh raw fruits, not stuff in syrup or out of a can. Don’t drink fruit juices either. Also, avoid bananas. The best fruits are meaty ones like apples or strawberries.

Limit sodas to the diet variety. Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, & Virgils Zero Colas & Rootbeers are all 0 carb, and taste pretty decent.

The best thing you can drink is water. I found that Crystal Lite packets are a life saver.

Stick to low-carb condiments. I learned quickly that the fat-free, diet salad dressings & condiments are often actually worse for you than the regular ones, & often contain extra carbs.

For snacks, I have been going with nuts & beef jerky.

The doctor that gave me the diet summed it up as: "Basically, if it’s white, don’t eat it."

I started getting my sugar down by eating nothing but salads & meat for a few weeks. After I got stable, I then slowly added some carbs back into meals. Now, if I can’t count the carbs, I try to go by the My Plate method: Fill 1/2 your plate with veggies, 1/4 with a meat, and 1/4 with carbs.

Also, be aware that different people react to different carb sources differently. I can get by on wheat bread, but white sends me soaring. Rice & pasta have a much larger effect on me than anything else, with corn not too far behind.

I’m not a doctor, and still kind of new to this myself, but all of this has been working for me. Also to note, I am only 24, and do not take any medications for my diabetes.

I have heard from many people that taking cinnamon does wonders. I have also heard that chromium helps.

Hope this helps!

Wow…thank you so much for your help. I’ll pass this info down to him. Take care!

I imagine your 85 year old father can eat a fig! Sheesh, yes it has carbs but in addition it has a boat load of nutrients. Your father can learn what he can tolerate just like you do, he must measure how the foods he chooses affect his bg. If something causes his range to lose control, then that choice should be eliminated. Can you get your mother a Calorie King book to check the numbers herself?

Figs have 12 grams carbs per fig. 4 would be my personal goal of carbs for the day though carb targets vary considerably with the individual and choice of treatment (i.e. drugs, low carb & exercise, etc.).


Yes, I was planning on purchasing a Calorie King book for them. I’m going visit with them Sunday so, I’ll be able to see and read whatever info the doctor gave him (which I"m sure is not much).

Call me crazy, but I don’t think a blind 85-year old should aim for tight control, and I think putting him on a low-carb diet or trying to get him to significantly change his lifestyle at this point is a fool’s errand. I hate to sound cynical, but I’d fathom he will die of something else before diabetic complications kick in. I’d focus on getting him to make easy changes (i.e. if he guzzles soda getting him to stop doing that) but ultra-tight control is not appropriate for this guy.

I’m not sure you can answer the question about “what should he eat?” without seeing the data, food in----> BG out like someone with T2 or T1? The lower carb angle seems to work for a lot of people but I sort of suspect you’d always have a 'trade off" option of “if you take insulin, then you can ‘process’ more carbs”? This has all sorts of perils so I understand that T2 people don’t leave a bottle lying around for “special occasions”. In some ways, insulin might be useful to illustrate what he “needs” but if they are already lobbying for figs and are totally opposed to insulin, then there’d probably be a “trade” off? It’s not quite the same as taking medicine but a lot of T2 members have reported exercising regularly and, if he can arrange to do that, then he can eat more I think? I dunno about stuff like Metformin, which seems likely to be the sort of meds that 85 y.o. patients would eat?

I second this. For most (normal) people 85 is a long life. I would aim for small changes that will help him and let him enjoy himself. I hope this is not too cynical or morbid.

I agree that tight control is not going to necessarily be the best thing for him. I have a T1 aunt that is also 85. She is currently in the hospital with congestive heart failure. Her kidneys are also failing. Her doctor said it won’t be her kidneys or diabetes that kills her but the congestive heart failure. I have read that they don’t opt for tight control in older people because they will die before complications set in. I say let him enjoy what life he has left and if he wants to have a fig, let him have it.

I didn’t really intend to say he should be going for tight control right off the bat. I just wanted to offer a starting point, as I found it really difficult to get guidance when I was first diagnosed. I went 3 months fearing all carbs before I was given some information about target carb intake amounts. I know that its really hard to make that big of a lifestyle switch at the drop of a pin, but if he’s willing, why not? There’s really no reason why he (or anyone really) couldn’t make some changes, feel better, get healthier, and live many more happy years. He may find he actually enjoys the changes. But, really, let him have the fig, or whatever he wants. I think the best thing you can do is give him information & let him decide.

I agree with ultravires and Capin101.

My F-I-L lived with us for a while in his mid-80s after a heart attack. He had early dementia at that time. We decided not to interfere when he drank his wee dram or two of scotch, smoked his 10 cigarettes a day and smothered his food with salt. After a discussion we decided it was his life and his right to choose, dementia or no. He eventually moved to a nursing home and lived to celebrate his 100th birthday before passing away peacefully last March.

If he is happy to make changes, good. It has to be his decision, after some informed and sympathetic discussion. Don't get him stressed about it and do let him enjoy life. And please don't scare him with dire warnings of diabetes complications.

I certainly would not promote the usual Test, Review, Adjust to him. This may help as a food guide, but only if he chooses to try it: What to Eat at First.

I emphasise that he should not be pressured. Let him decide how much change he wants in his life.

Cheers, Alan, T2, Australia
Everything in Moderation - Except laughter