To Carb, or Not to Carb?

I’ve read so many articles about low carb eating lately, that it’s left me wondering if there are any people with diabetes out there who still eat them. I’m not about to start telling you what’s right or what’s wrong, because I believe that diabetes management is a very individual issue. But I would like to weigh in with my own perspective on the age old question. I stress, these are my personal opinions only.

Quite honestly, I’ve never been a fan of low carb. The mere sound of the word makes me cringe, simply because it makes me think of restriction. I also think that eating low carb requires a greater level of commitment in the kitchen all through the day, rather than having just one cooked meal in the evening as I do.

The main reason I do not like low carb eating is because the trade off is usually foods that are higher in fat. Foods that are higher in fat tend to produce spikes in blood sugar levels several hours after a meal. I find that protein and fat spikes are very hard to bolus for, and high blood sugar levels are very resilient to insulin corrections. Personally, I do not like chasing highs several hours after meals and would much rather bolus my insulin just once. If there are any low carb people reading this, I’d be interested to hear how you work your way around this.

I am happy to put the work into the carbohydrates I eat. As I wrote last week, pre-bolussing for meals helps me to avoid the post meal spikes. Carbohydrate counting does work when I’ve got my ratios and basal rates right.

That being said, I definitely have changed my thinking around the way I approach carbohydrate foods. Over time I have slowly made gradual changes to the carbohydrates I eat.

I definitely try not to overload on the carbs at mealtimes. On the weekend, we had Turkish bread rolls for lunch, which were 70g. I cut mine in half, simply because I consider 70g way too much to be eating in one sitting. Ditto for the thick slice Cafe-style raisin toast that I have as an afternoon treat sometimes. I also make sure to weigh out my portions when I have foods like rice and pasta, to make sure I don’t overload on the carbs.

I only eat bread as either toast or sandwiches now, and not as a side or appetiser for my dinner plate. I always opt for lower carb, seeded bread, which also tends to carry greater nutritional value with it. Burgen Pumpkin Seed is a real winner for me, with just 11g carbs per slice. Baker’s Delight Cape Seed loaf is another good one.

I have also cut out a lot of the high sugar foods in my diet. Over one very painful year, I gradually cut the two sugars out of my coffee and tea completely. I no longer eat breakfast cereals, because even some of the better ones are still loaded with at least 20g of sugar per 100g. Ditto for muesli bars, which have been replaced by bananas. I often have microwaveable Oats sachets for breakfast, and I have recently switched from the sugar laden fruit flavours to Original.

My approach to eating has definitely centred around eliminating the carbs that I deem unnecessary or unenjoyable. I would much rather put these carbs saved towards foods that I do want to eat. For instance, those yoghurt pots with the stir through fruit jelly? I would much rather have that sugar in a plate of ice cream instead.

When I look at my Dad, who eats bread with anything and everything, I definitely feel that I eat far fewer carbohydrates than I once did. Would I identify myself as a low carbohydrate eater? I still eat the foods that I want to eat. I don’t feel as though I am depriving myself of anything. I’m simply eating a diet with far more balance compared to life prior to diabetes.

With lots of coffee, and the occasional cannoli or cake thrown in.

Ricotta #Cannoli. #lategram

A photo posted by Frank (@franksita) on

7 thoughts on “To Carb, or Not to Carb?

  1. The cannoli and the bread looks amazing. I have never had a cannoli, but oh I want one. Someday for certain.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes.org blog page for the week of August 1, 2016.

  2. Frank, I think the fact that you are taking a very analytical and practical perspective to your carb intake is a huge positive. Call it what you want, low carb, reduced carb, etc… Being cognizant of what you’re eating and acknowledging what effect it will have on your blood sugar is more than most Type 1’s I know are doing consistently. Personally, I enjoy having the control and take the attitude that I’m “feeding the machine” rather than eating for pleasure. I realize this is an extreme position but I’ve found that controlling my blood sugar makes me feel better than any particular food could ever could. Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the good work. Cheers!

  3. OMG!!! That cannoli! I do low/medium carbs most of the time, but I still wouldnt say no to fish & chips or home made pizza. I agree with you in that you have to find what works for you and what you want to live with.

  4. I think you are right – it is very individual and you have to do what works for you.. And what works for you may change! Also – yes yes and yes to everything Matthew said.. If you do go more low carb and increase fat, protein, or both, it is very likely that you may have to work out different basal rates or I:C, but once you figure it out it’s a beautiful thing – much more consistency in dosing as even a small carb counting error when eating a larger amount of carbs can throw your numbers off by A LOT! As with everything, I find consistency is key. For instance when I ate lower carb (30-60g a day), I always factored in a 30-40% protein bolus (meaning I would add up the grams of protein and bolus for 30-40% of that as if it was carb). The cool thing there is that I never had to prebolus, I could take my insulin right before or right after I ate.. The last several months I have been eating about 60-120g carbs, and I no longer need a protein bolus.. But what I need is to prebolus (sometimes by as much as 30 minutes). Which way is better? Both ways work for me. Pregnancy makes me crave bread and if I am eating even 1-2 servings a day, obviously I can’t stick to a very small amount of carbs a day. But weighing carefully and prebolusing has made it possible to get by with pretty good numbers. Interestingly my A1C actually decreased from 5.7 to 5.4 when on 60-120g carb a day, but I don’t think statistically 5.7 is very different from 5.4 which is why I say both ways work for me… Still, I never eat more than 30g in a sitting (most of the time it’s 15-20g per meal or snack). Interestingly, I would say that I still eat a bit of fat (I never limit fat or protein) and I find it actually helps delay the spike from eating a “higher carb” meal… In any case, if you are interested check out Dr. Bernstein’s “The Diabetes Solution”, as well as Gary Schreiner’s “Think Like a Pancreas”.. Lots of very usful info!

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