Ask Dana

June 06,2021 |
family eating

Dear Dana,

I have had Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years and have always struggled to have good control.  My husband was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was told by his doctor to eat a low carb diet.  He has done really well – he has lost weight and lowered his A1C.  I have tried to follow along with him to be supportive and I’ve noticed that my blood sugars have improved as well.  But, I was always told to follow a balanced diet and include carbohydrates so now I am really confused.  There is so much information online about a keto diet, a paleo diet and even a vegan diet.  So, I just want to know what is the best way for me to eat for my diabetes?

Confused in Connecticut.

Caroline Kelly, Danbury, Connecticut


Dear Caroline,

First of all, congrats to you and your husband. It takes a lot of work and dedication to focus on your health and improve your diabetes management.  Many people living with both Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes may benefit by following a low carb diet.  For this discussion, however, I will focus on your question about following a low carb diet for someone living with Type 1 diabetes.  You may notice a decreased spike in your blood sugar after a low carb meal compared to a high carb meal.  The decreased blood sugars after meals will lead to less variability (less lows and less highs) of your blood sugars and you may spend more time with blood sugars in a normal range. You might also find that you need less insulin for corrections after meals and need less insulin for your meals in general.  All of this can help with weight management and maybe even improve your mood and attitude towards your diabetes.  In short, it can be easier to manage diabetes following a lower carb diet. 

However, it is important to find the diet that works for you that you feel good following and one that you can sustain over the long term.  A low carb diet can be a challenging for meal planning and can leave you feeling deprived of certain foods you enjoy.  You may also notice that you miss carbohydrates for fast energy for exercise or endurance activities.  And, it is important to remember that healthy, fiber rich carbohydrates provide us with important vitamins and minerals that provide benefit towards gut health and disease prevention.  One thing is for certain, you will need to learn new insulin strategies for meals with high protein and high fat and limited carbohydrates to avoid low blood sugars or delayed increases in blood sugars. 

As someone living with diabetes, there is not one diet that works for everyone.  Learning what works best for you and your health is an important part of your diabetes management.  At IDS, we can help you find that nutrition balance with a focus on long term health and the best possible diabetes management.