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Jul 21, 2012 04:24 PM

Veggie Advice for New Diabetic


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.

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  1. 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

    1. 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.

      Most of the information in that web site, 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. 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

          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

            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.


            1. re: SeaSide Tomato

              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. 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

            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?: 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. 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

              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

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

                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                  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

                    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 ....

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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.