Getting Started on Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet

Low-Carb Diet for Blood Sugar Control

Close-up of a person's hand taking a blood test
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The ​Dr. Bernstein diabetes diet is a low-carb diet designed for better blood sugar control for people with diabetes. Here are seven steps to get started on it that will help you understand why and how it works and increase your chances of success. If you are taking diabetes medications, work with your health professional while making diet changes.

1. Read Dr. Bernstein's Diet Books

It is essential to fully understand the underpinnings of Dr. Bernstein's approach if you have diabetes.

Read "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution." It is a complete guide. People without diabetes can probably get by with reading "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet." Although "Solution" has a lot more information, it also has a lot that is specific for diabetes, such as information about injecting insulin.

Books to Read:

  • "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution"
  • "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet"

2. Consider Home Blood Glucose Testing, Even If You Don't Have Diabetes

Dr. Bernstein's approach is rooted in promoting normal blood glucose. The only real way to know what yours is doing and how you respond to foods is to test your blood glucose. You should work with your health care team if you have diabetes so they can advise you further on modifying the diet or your medications based on how the diet affects you.

3. Learn How to Count Carbs

Bernstein's plan relies on knowing how much carbohydrate is in everything you eat.

Therefore, it's important to learn about carb counting. There are books with carb counts, apps, and software you can use. For example, use the Recipe Nutrition Calculator for a single food or a complete recipe to see the carbohydrate and fiber content as well as other nutrients.

4. Learn What to Eat

The rules of carbohydrate eating on Bernstein's plan are summarized as "6-12-12." This means that 6 grams of carbohydrate are eaten at breakfast, 12 grams at lunch, and 12 grams at dinner/supper.

The books have lots of tips on how to do this. You can also see the food lists for the Dr. Bernstein's diet.

His advice on how much protein and fat to eat is to learn through experience how much will get you through to the next meal and then eat that same amount at that meal each day.

5. Plan Ahead

It's important when starting out on a new way of eating to plan your food ahead of time. This really cannot be emphasized enough. Plan at least a week's worth of menus. Head to the store with your shopping list and have food on hand a few days ahead of time. You may want to make recipes that can be portioned and frozen so you have them on hand in the coming weeks. Then you won't be caught wondering what to eat. Explore these ideas for meals:

6. Take the Plunge

The first week of a new way of eating is usually challenging. Know that there will be rough spots, especially as your body converts to a new way of eating. You will have to experiment to find your right carb level.

7. Get Support

This could be the most important step of all. Get support from family and friends. If possible, find someone to do the diet with you. If you have diabetes, this is not going to be a diet that you end after you lose a few pounds, it will be your way of eating for life.

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