A Low-Carbohydrate Eating Pattern for Diabetics

By American Diabetes Association

Many people believe that a low-carbohydrate diet is the “best” meal planning option for people with diabetes. Although this type of eating pattern may work for some people with diabetes, it’s certainly not the only option, and it isn’t the right eating pattern for everyone with diabetes.

A low-carbohydrate eating pattern focuses mainly on foods that are higher in protein and nonstarchy vegetables that are low in carbohydrate. People following this eating pattern will primarily eat nonstarchy vegetables — for example, carrots, onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and salad greens — and proteins and fats. Meats, poultry, fish and seafood, egg, and dairy can all be included in a low-carbohydrate diet. Highly processed sources of carbohydrate and grain foods, on the other hand, are usually avoided by people following this eating pattern. This generally includes rice, breads, pastas, and sugary foods and drinks.

There is no definition of how many grams of carbohydrate constitute a “low carbohydrate” diet. If you think that a low-carbohydrate eating pattern may be a good fit for you, talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider. He or she can help you find the best way to meet your nutritional needs and set daily carbohydrate goals.

People following a low-carbohydrate eating pattern still benefit from making nutritious food choices. Frequently eating high-fat meats and full-fat dairy products, covering your nonstarchy vegetables in dressing and saturated fat (from butter and margarine), and adding lots of salt to your food isn’t good for you in the long run. Even if your blood glucose is well managed, eating a lot of saturated (and trans) fats and sodium can increase your risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) complications.