HOME > Chowhound > Special Diets >
What's your latest food project?
TELL US

Veggie Advice for New Diabetic

pinehurst Jul 21, 2012 04:24 PM

Hounds,

My DH is a recently diagnosed diabetic--his first sign was a small stroke. We're very lucky to expect a return to normal, but we are both going to change the way we eat, exercise, and handle stress.

Here's my question. Are any raw veggies particularly diabetes-friendly? We got the no peas/potato/corn warning, but were wondering if a cup of celery is better than a cup of broccoli? I believe carrots have slightly more carbs.

Thanks in advance. I want to do the right thing. We also plan to follow up with a nutritionist.

  1. Ruthie789 Feb 20, 2013 04:05 PM

    Hope that he is doing better by now.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789
      pinehurst Feb 20, 2013 04:27 PM

      Ruthie, what a kind post! He is done with physical therapy (though still working on his own, with a ways to go with balance issues) ---I'm happy to report is no longer insulin-dependent.

      I am convinced that the excellent advice, experiential wisdom, and true willingness to help was a life (and sanity) saver for us.

      While H will have many doc visits in the months and years to come, healing really begins at home with things as simple as what we fuel our bodies with.

      I wish everyone on this board many happy and healthy years. Bless you all!

      1. re: pinehurst
        Ruthie789 Feb 20, 2013 04:43 PM

        Sounds like he is making strides. No more insulin, that is amazing. It's a majour adjustment to go through a lifestyle change. I like the Adage, Keep Calm and Carry On although not always easy when you are weathering the storm.

        1. re: Ruthie789
          pinehurst Feb 20, 2013 05:09 PM

          Very true. And every "body" is different in how it reacts to meds, foods, everything. For example, we found that for an afternoon turkey sandwich, a slice of rye or pumpernickel bread doesn't really budge his BG much at all. Whole wheat, on the other hand, does. All sorts of little things like that. Live and learn.

          1. re: pinehurst
            Ruthie789 Feb 20, 2013 05:35 PM

            That rings true for me, as I was helping my father transition to a diabetic diet. At first it is a lot of work but eventually it starts to function, a learning curve for sure.

            1. re: pinehurst
              mcf Feb 20, 2013 05:41 PM

              Wheat is amazing, isn't it? Even a Wasa with wheat... just a few grams of carb spikes blood glucose out of all proportion to the carb count. I used to try to eat Wasa multigrain because they're delish, but no go. Lots of diabetics react that way to fresh tomato, too; just a few grams can blow out their meters.

              Which is what meters are for, right? :-)

      2. Ruthie789 Aug 22, 2012 06:41 PM

        Do you also have to watch your gluten and protein content, if a renal diabetic?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ruthie789
          mcf Aug 23, 2012 08:09 AM

          Here's one answer: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com...

        2. pinehurst Jul 27, 2012 05:44 PM

          OT the OP, but as wheat seems to spike BG in many diabetics, would it be best to follow something like a gluten free diet?

          10 Replies
          1. re: pinehurst
            mcf Jul 28, 2012 06:25 AM

            Not necessary unless you're intolerant. But eating mostly starch free does eliminate a lot or most gluten from the diet. Gluten is a protein, and it's used in a lot of substitute low carb baked goods for that reason. I've never had a problem eating anything high in wheat gluten, but it's an infrequent thing for me. I've never tested + for the antibodies.

            I just noticed that you mentioned carrots as carby... sort of but not really. They, and most root veggies (except white turnips and yellow rutabagas) are low carb, but when cooked, very glycemic beyond what you'd expect from their carb counts. You might find that raw carrots make a good snack or salad addition for your husband, but cooked ones are to be avoided, along with parsnips, beets... Cooking breaks down/releases the starch/carbs.

            How is the adjustment period going for you guys?

            1. re: mcf
              pinehurst Jul 28, 2012 05:22 PM

              Not bad, although (as you know) it truly is a lifestyle change. The previous year we ate a lot of pasta (probably 3-4 times per week), mostly as a cost saver since it's cheap and DH likes it a lot (more than I, and I'm the Italian-American). Like lots of folks, pre-medical event H's job (and hence, wages) were cut by 2/3, so I'm working 2.5 jobs now to pick up the slack.

              When I shop, I head to the produce aisle first now. Veggies are 1/2 our plates (or more). Tonight, H. and I had a small piece of salmon and steamed broc/cauliflower. DH had some raw carrots and a few cheese cubes as a snack tonight.

              So, I have to be mindful of the way I shop, cook, and stock the pantry. The cheap, easy fillers that were part of our diet (potatoes, rice, pasta) simply don't work for us anymore.

              Tell you one thing that may be TMI; it took my body a good two-three days flatulence-wise to get used to all those veggies. I'm over that hump. Another thing: we're sleeping better now.

              Bit by bit....BP and BG are things we will always monitor, so I am so grateful, mcf and others on this thread, for your help and support. THANK YOU! Andrea (Pinehurst)

              1. re: pinehurst
                mcf Aug 20, 2012 09:50 AM

                I just saw this post. Yes, it takes a lot of planning and careful shopping to eat healthier and lower carb. I eat pretty extremely low carb, and my plate is more than half veggies, and not due to budget. But some things I do are buy whole chickens and cut them into parts if that's what I want by myself. Cheeses and organic baby greens, the base of many of our spring/summer grilled fish/meat meals are cheap at Costco for excellent quality. The more I care about the quality of our food, the more we've eaten at home even when budget is not the main concern. I hate waste, too. I make rich stock from seafood shells or chicken and turkey carcasses which I freeze in 1 cup portions. I save giblets in a Ziplock in the freezer for this, too, along with a bag of lobster shrimp shells or fish bones. Last night we had grilled steak with grilled chayote (an excellent and delicious new low carb addition to our diet) and long Japanese eggplants brushed with oil. I just got a boneless leg of lamb at Costco that I'll marinate Greek style, then cut into kebab cubes to grill with veggies. Lots of leftovers from this and little waste. Roasted chicken can be eaten whole one night, as part of fajita filling the next night with grilled peppers and onions on low carb tortillas (Joseph's are the best), and then serve as a base for soup, maybe with some added chicken for protein/carb ratio. So glad things are on their way to better numbers. One really good piece of advice not food related is to take a walk in the first 30 minutes post meal. Even 10-15 minutes will keep bg lower post meal.

                BTW, I was the low fat eating Pasta Prom Queen and DH was the King. :-)

                1. re: mcf
                  mcf Aug 20, 2012 09:57 AM

                  This thing (found in the hispanic foods produce section most often) is wonderful and delicious! http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/sho...

                  1. re: mcf
                    pinehurst Aug 22, 2012 05:26 PM

                    Oh nice...we have a HUGE Caribbean Spanish (mostly Dominican, but increasingly C. American and PR) population in my area, so we're seeing more and more Hispanic foods.

                    I read that it tastes mildly cucumber-y?

                    1. re: pinehurst
                      mcf Aug 23, 2012 08:06 AM

                      It's mild, and juicy like cuke, but the flavor is different. Not sweet, but almost. I've read that some folks sub it for apples in pie, and I can definitely see how with the right seasoning that would work, texture wise. Folks I've suggested it to have tried it and loved it, so far. Sauteed or grilled.

                      1. re: mcf
                        goodhealthgourmet Jan 18, 2013 11:22 AM

                        I assume that link originally took you to a listing for chayote, right? The USDA must have renumbered some listings in the database since then - it's Romaine lettuce now :)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          mcf Jan 18, 2013 01:47 PM

                          Yes, it did go to chayote, my new best friend. Thanks for the heads up.

                2. re: pinehurst
                  s
                  sueatmo Feb 20, 2013 01:38 PM

                  I just want to reply about the sleeping better part. That has been my experience as well. When I keep my carbs controlled I usually sleep best. I had years of bad sleep, with no discernible cause until I cut way back on carbs. I am glad your spouse is doing well.

                3. re: mcf
                  k
                  Kalivs Jan 16, 2013 09:13 PM

                  I have been a type 1 diabetic for over 10 years now & have an A1c below 7. In my office, there is someone on a gluten free diet for celiac's disease & we're always comparing. If the gluten free diet contains substitutes for wheat then the products contain either rice flour or potato flour. Both of these will be .worse than wheat for you. I find that carrots result in spikes in BS for me either raw or cooked. I try to stay away from tropical fruit such as mangoes & melons. No fruit juices. And if I'm really really craving watermelon (& that means craving not just wanting), I'm about to go into ketoacidosis.

                  That being said, I have the occasional slice of cake baked potato every once in while.

              2. h
                hawkeyeui93 Jul 25, 2012 06:15 PM

                According to a list I saw recently in a juicing book written by a nutritionist, the safe fruits and veggies include apples, avocados, blueberries, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pears, broccoli, artichokes, leafy greens, and onions.

                13 Replies
                1. re: hawkeyeui93
                  mcf Jul 26, 2012 07:07 AM

                  Idiot nutritionist, if recommending juicing to diabetics, especially with fruits. Juicing makes foods super rapidly digested, the opposite of what one wants for bg control.

                  1. re: mcf
                    h
                    hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 07:20 AM

                    Actually, the nutritionist didn't recommend juicing ....

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93
                      mcf Jul 26, 2012 07:35 AM

                      Okay, but recommending fruits is still a very bad idea, especially other than berries, for instance. Every diabetic reacts to foods differently, and there is no fruit that can be assumed "safe" without using a meter to test its results. I don't know any diabetics who can eat more than a piece of a small apple or pear without a big glucose spike, for instance, but it's highly individual.

                      1. re: mcf
                        h
                        hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 07:39 AM

                        I did not make the contention that this was not individualized, but instead gave a list of fresh fruits and veggies that are known to be safe harbors. Since the OP asked for veggie advice, he or she can certainly ignore my list of fruits. Interestingly, the American Diabetes Association cites the use of certain fruits as well .... http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitn...

                        1. re: hawkeyeui93
                          mcf Jul 26, 2012 07:49 AM

                          The ADA also recommends a very high carb, high starch diet that promotes rapid progression of diabetes and performs worst in any side by side comparison for DM control. They also recommend sugar, since it's no worse for diabetics than starches. Just look at their sponsorships for why.

                          My experience, and that of hundreds or more diabetics I've corresponded with for over a decade is that the ADA dietary advice to carb load and take meds that increase mortality to compensate is a ticket to disaster. Those of us staying in low normal, non diabetic numbers with diet alone know how individual foods affect the course of the illness.

                          I doubt I'd still be alive if I'd followed ADA reccos. I'd acquired severe nerve and kidney damage (both reversed by diet) without ever having achieved even the ADA diagnostic guidelines, which are so high that most diabetics have lost 50% of pancreatic insulin producing cells before diagnosis. Hardly the authority to cite. Better to read widely in the peer reviewed research.

                          1. re: mcf
                            h
                            hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 08:05 AM

                            I don't know what to say, especially when it appears on its face that the two biggest things the ADA promotes is limiting carbs/starch and you read it as recommending high carbs/high starch ...

                            1. re: hawkeyeui93
                              mcf Jul 26, 2012 08:15 AM

                              You're not reading research, just a highlight, then. Their guidelines call for a diet of 55-60% carbs, most of the calories from starches. They know a lot of folks disapprove and a lot of research demonstrates the damage, so they use mushy language about controlling carbs, but they basically recommend over 200 grams per day. Researchers citing their diet in their work always describe it as 55% or 60% carbohydrate.

                              If you look at their recipe pages, they show starches and desserts, mostly, and if you do the math on the nutrition for most of them as I have, it's right there.

                              Hawkeye, are you a diabetic measuring glucose responses to various foods?

                              1. re: mcf
                                h
                                hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 08:30 AM

                                mcf: I am not diabetic, but was on the path to it. I have dropped about eighty pounds changing my diet to a primarily plant based one. I'm sorry if I offended you.

                                1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                  mcf Jul 26, 2012 08:39 AM

                                  You haven't offended me at all, it's a discussion. I became severely insulin resistant and diabetic on a low fat, high carb Ornish diet years ago. It also raised my triglycerides and bp and lowered my HDL terribly. I lost weight on it, but also my health, and I wasn't overweight to start. All completely reversed on a fairly high fat and protein, low carb (which means tons of non starchy or sugary plant foods, too). I've read all the research here, and I hope you have good luck but I'd urge you to monitor your bg before your first bite and at one and two hours after for a while. That prevention is worth a lb of cure later.

                                  I applaud your proactivity and desire to be responsible for your own health.

                                  1. re: mcf
                                    h
                                    hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 08:51 AM

                                    I do still eat high fat and protein, just in moderation. I did not ever believe in low fat (as I found most of it was pumped with sugar to make it taste better), but. I did enjoy high carbs/processed carbs, which I eat in moderation at present. I limit my intake of starchy vegetables at present and focus instead on green leafy veggies. Thanks for the advice!

                                    1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                      mcf Jul 26, 2012 09:11 AM

                                      I don't moderate fat and protein as a % of total calories, but because I eat so little overall, I guess it's moderate in that respect. Get that meter. "pre" diabetes is like "a little bit pregnant." Fasting glucose doesn't rise until most folks have been diabetic many years, and any HbA1c above 4.6% and especially 5% comes with greatly increased cardiovascular disease mortality. Diet alone can reverse it... some folks become so much healthier as diabetics due to the focus on diet it brings. IF it's the right diet, eat to your meter. :-)

                                      Ornish's early books said sugar couldn't hurt because it was fat free, and that the ONLY risk was empty calories.

                                      1. re: mcf
                                        h
                                        hawkeyeui93 Jul 26, 2012 09:32 AM

                                        Point well-taken. I was technically told by a doctor that if I did not control my weight/diet, I had diabetes to look forward to in my future. The point hit home because my dad is presently walking the line with it at present. Thanks for the insights!

                                        1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                          mcf Jul 26, 2012 12:11 PM

                                          Good luck, it sounds like you'll do well. Just do what works for you and measure your results to find your individual best plan.

                2. pinehurst Jul 25, 2012 04:42 PM

                  Great tips, all. We found that even a smallish bowl of oatmeal (irish oatmeal, not the sweetened stuff) can bump up the bg in the AM, so mcf's statement rings true for us. In the hospital he presented with bg of 432. This morning, his fasting bg was 189. Not perfect, but a start of a lifelong process. Thanks again, everyone. I'll be around.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pinehurst
                    mcf Jul 25, 2012 06:06 PM

                    Progress is a good thing! You want that a.m. number under 100 if you can eventually, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. My husband eats low carb with me for health, fitness and prevention and he has very low normal glucose always... the bonus is real cheeses, meat with fat, etc... lots of colors and flavors on our plates, none of the white or starchy stuff.

                    You'll want to test a LOT as that flyer indicates, at first, and I do it periodically just to see if anything's changed, or to measure reaction to a cheat food, but I can go weeks without testing now on my regular diet. It's the learning curve that requires a big investment in test strips. And don't let any diabetic "educator" tell you to wait til the second hour... you need to know what the peak is, even brief ones do damage.

                    Has anyone mentioned this book to you?: http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Year-... A lot of folks I know have found it very helpful early on, totally demystifies the process. I'm sure your library system has it.

                    That diurnal rhythm really starts to drop off cortisol levels between 3-5 pm. This is when you'd want to save those moderate carb snacks or servings for, and dinner time... a 15 minute walk 30 minutes after the first bite is amazingly good at preventing a bg spike, too. Years ago, before I'd gotten control with diet, I found that a mere ten minutes walking briskly on a treadmill or in my neighborhood knocked my bg down from 227 to 125... using those larger muscles really burns up glucose.

                    Marathon, not sprint. :-

                    )

                    More about veggies: Google up "fauxtatoes." And think about white turnip pureed and drained, with butter salt and pepper. Rutabagas and turnip gratin with cream and gruyere cheese and fresh herbs is a family must have. Rutabaga puree makes a great bed for pot roast and stew where spuds or noodles might have gone.

                  2. SeaSide Tomato Jul 24, 2012 11:17 AM

                    I cannot recommend Mark Hyman's book "The Blood sugar Solution" highly enough [I have no association with him other than as a reader]. In March my PCP let me know my fasting and A1C were very high (over 200 fasting). Reading up on diabetes, I was scared to death.

                    I already ate what I felt was a very healthy diet--but even sweet potatoes, quinoa and millet are not kind to BS if you have a problem. Having read other of MH's books, I already knew him and felt very confident in his advise (you may have seen him on PBS, as well.).

                    Anyway, I have followed the advise there with great success. In just a few months my numbers went from waaaay tooooo high to very close to normal. I am nearly there.

                    I eat healthy proteins and lots of veggies--but not the starchy ones. It was a transition--but the results have been remarkable (much better BS numbers that are still improving, weight loss like never before, and I feel great Every Single Day). My plate is full of colorful veggies--really, an embarrassing amount when I'm pretty hungry--combined with things like eggs, duck, chicken, fishes, steaks, pork etc. I just don't have the starches, starchy veg or dairy--for now. Given my results, it's worth it for now. Do I miss my wine? a nice gine martini? Sure. But weighing my desire for those against my results and how I feel, it's no contest. The constant comments about how great I look don't hurt either [ and I looked pretty good before, if I do say so myself:) ]

                    I urge you to look into it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato
                      mcf Jul 24, 2012 12:23 PM

                      There's not a problem for a diabetic having a drink with dinner, it actually lowers blood glucose. I have red wine regularly with meals. Not a bottle. The bg lowering effect of alcohol with meals is pretty well documented. But you want to choose your drink and the quantity carefully.

                      1. re: mcf
                        SeaSide Tomato Jul 24, 2012 12:40 PM

                        Very true, MCF.

                        Sadly, for me personnaly, I loves me my wine (or other) too much for "a" glass. Sigh. One must focus on one issue at a time.

                        Adding alcohol back in can come later when my numbers are as I want them to be. It's just eaiser for me right now to handle it in this black and white fashion, shades of grey won't work for me here.

                        Danke!

                        1. re: SeaSide Tomato
                          mcf Jul 24, 2012 12:49 PM

                          If you can't moderate, that is another issue and you may not want to find the time. I hate feeling buzzed, and half a glass is about all I can handle. Good to know yourself and to make the hard but necessary choices.

                    2. mcf Jul 21, 2012 06:54 PM

                      Any colorful, high fiber veggie is going to be a good choice, but for the first months or year, this is the absolute best advice you'll ever see for figuring out which foods work and in what quantities for your husband's individual responses. http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/flyer...

                      Most of the information in that web site, phlaunt.com/diabetes is very helpful.

                      In general, you want colorful, leafy and high fiber carb stuff, avoid starches and fruits (calorie and carb dense) and don't go low fat. Numerous studies have demonstrated much more benefit from fat and protein for most calories, and high fiber carbs. After lots of testing, weighing my food and using software to track nutrition, weight and bg, I found over years that my personal diet is most optimal at 50% calories from fats, 30-35% protein and the rest non starchy carbs...

                      I was an undiagnosed diabetic for many years, had advanced kidney and peripheral nerve damage and 14 years ago reversed them and have tightly controlled my bg in the normal, non diabetic range ever since without meds, just diet. This is one disease that it's easy to control, arrest and reverse the effects of.

                      Even though carbs are a very small percentage of my calories, by volume my meal plate is covered with carbs like roasted or grilled veggies, salad, etc... and always a substantial protein portion. Another tip that helps all diabetics I know a lot is to completely avoid any carbs until at least afternoon. The way daily hormone rhythm goes, bg will be highest in the a.m. and taper off as the day goes on. So carbs at breakfast can spike you beyond all reason even if meager but the same food might not produce undesirable numbers at, say, 4 p.m. or dinner. Any time a treat is planned, save it for late.

                      1. p
                        Pegmeister Jul 21, 2012 05:22 PM

                        You definitely need to follow up with a nutritionist as every one is different. I am also recently diagnosed and found that some of my favorite foods were an issue. Now with exercise and within reason I can have potatoes and pasta although I have switched to the dreamfields brand which is low glycemic. Try to focus on what you can eat and enjoy. Also my instruction has been more focused on increasing vegetables and fruits with no mention of eliminating any vegetables

                        Show Hidden Posts