Overview of Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 07, 2013 at 3:23 AM

My mother has type 2 diabetes. Her doctor is urging her to start taking insulin, which she is resisting for a variety of reasons. I think she may be finally concerned enough about her own health to make some sort of lifestyle change. Judging from what I've read on various paleo sites, it seems that Dr Bernstein's diet is basically the paleo-approved diet to treat type 2 diabetics.

I've ordered Dr. Bernstein's book for my mother - but I'm worried she simply won't read it. I was hoping that someone could give me an overview of the basics. I've read online that he recommends restricting carbs to 30 grams (6-12-12). Does he make a protein recommendation as well? Is there any calorie restriction, or is it simply eating approved foods until satiety? Any of the specific diet info would be greatly appreciated.



on January 08, 2013
at 02:52 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone! And I have wonderful news. I just had my mother eat a dinner of fatty meat and veggies, and she tested her blood sugar an hour afterwards... she got a 137, which is apparently a non-diabetic level! She said she's ALWAYS been well above 200... amazing! It took one paleo meal to cure her of diabetes :) I kid, sort of. In any event, she is now a believer. I can't wait to see the results in a month or so - and hear about her doctor's reaction! Thanks again!

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3 Answers



on January 07, 2013
at 04:41 AM

The best breakdown of Bernstein into user friendly chunks is Jenny Ruhl's Diabetes 101 site: http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/index.php. You can print out single topics and choose what's most relevant for your mom. Jenny based the info on dr. Bernstein's recommendations, but it's simplified and user friendly.


on January 07, 2013
at 03:59 AM


I am a type 1 diabetic and I follow the Dr. Bernstein 6-12-12 rule pretty closely to help with blood sugar control. It works wonders! He is a huge advocate of low carb eating but not all of the foods he recommends eating are paleo. In fact most of them aren't. I would really encourage your mom to read the book, it really explains diabetes and would probably 'talk her into' wanting to take a diet and exercise approach of treatment. It is quit a large book, so even if she could just read the intro chapter and the one on food choices towards the end. If she does begin using insulin there is a great chapter on how to use it in detail. He does go into detail about protein portions although they are based on a weight and activity basis. I hope this answers a few questions. Let me know if you have any more.

Best of luck, Hannah



on January 07, 2013
at 09:50 AM

Let me start off by saying that I'm a T2 diabetic and Bernstein follower. I was diagnosed with a HbA1c of 10.2% and a fasting BG of over 450 mg/dL in April 2011, and as host of diabetic complications (neuropathy, recurring balntitis, IBS). By following Bernstein's 25g a day, I managed to get my HbA1c down to 5.6% in the first three months, and to 4.9% in a year (which is better than most non-diabetics). In the process of doing this I lost 70lbs and reversed all of my symptoms. I recently passed an OGTT that suggests I am now technically "pre-diabetic" (although I'm not sure that I trust the criteria).

I personally credit Bernstein for saving my life (or at least adding years to it) and indirectly introducing me to Paleo (if you read enough low-carb stuff you'll hit Paleo in the end).

However, <25g is kind of hardcore, and Bernstein's book has a T1 bias. If she has the will power to stick with it, I'm pretty sure that she can avoid the insulin. Janknitz suggested, Jenny Ruhl's book is a slightly less hardline version of the same thing, which is much shorter, and written for T2 diabetics. The truth is, that if she could cut her carbs back to less than 100g (say) then she'd probably dramatically improve her prospects (although the amount depends on just how damaged her endocrine system is).

I'd also strongly recommend that she joins some sort of support forum or online community, which will help convince her of the benefits of low-carb, and give her a shoulder to cry on when she "falls off the waggon" now and again. I'm involved with this one (which is very low-carb friendly) but there are many others.

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