Marion Franz, MS, RD, CDE
If you have diabetes it may seem logical to avoid carbohydrates—if carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels then it might seem to make sense to limit carbohydrate intake. And it is true that what determines blood glucose levels after a meal is the balance between carbohydrates eaten and available insulin. What is often forgotten or ignored is that gram for gram protein has been shown to require as much insulin to be used correctly as do carbohydrate; even if protein does not affect blood glucose levels. Furthermore, what usually happens when people cut back on the carbohydrates that they eat, they eat more fat, usually saturated fats. Eating large amounts of saturated fats has been shown to cause insulin resistance. So in the long term just cutting back on carbohydrates doesn’t necessarily improve blood glucose control.
In the Expo session on carbohydrates research studies about how much carbohydrate to eat will be reviewed. You may be surprised to find out that research has shown that people who eat moderately higher carbohydrate diets have lower A1C levels than people who eat lower carbohydrate diets. And high carbohydrate diets have not been shown to cause insulin resistance, in fact, they may improve insulin resistance. And if weight loss is your goal, research has shown that how many calories you eat is more important than if the calories are from carbohydrate, protein, or fat.
But perhaps most importantly, it would seem that people with diabetes “deserve the right” to eat healthfully. And certainly carbohydrate foods—fruit, vegetables, whole grains, milk and yogurt—are all important foods for healthy eating.
If all this sounds confusing (or even not true) come to the Expo session with your questions and concerns. After participating in the discussion, you can decide what the right approach is for you.