The Plunge

diabetes dietHello fellow and female diabetics, and the friends who support us. This week, I’d like to talk about The Plunge.

If you are on insulin or other blood glucose-lowering medications, you’ll know The Plunge. It’s where your blood sugar drops at an alarmingly rapid rate usually because of insulin or other medicines. It feels very unpleasant.

What’s it like? Explaining diabetes feelings to non-diabetics is tricky, and it needs a lot of imagination. You search your vocabulary and powers of observation for ways to describe it and still come up short. Metaphors work the best, but they are still hard to think up.

The Plunge works well for me because it signifies a roller-coaster. There you are at the top; then suddenly, you’re heading to the bottom at super-fast speed.

Signs of fast-dropping blood sugars include tiredness, a lot of yawning, shakiness and confusion. They are also all symptoms of hypos.

One of the reasons we promote The Diabetes Diet (low-carb eating) is that it makes The Plunge easier to avoid. This is because you won’t need to take as much fast-acting insulin with your meals. Using fast-acting insulin can be a be a bit like picking up a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It isn’t subtle stuff, that’s for sure.

This isn’t a guarantee. Sometimes, you’ll need extra insulin to cover unexpected high blood sugar levels, and The Plunge may result.

But overall, using lower levels of insulin to cover meals means steadier blood sugar levels overall. Dips up and down are far less dramatic and therefore don’t feel as yucky. (This is a technical term.)

How do you experience The Plunge, and can you think up better ways to describe than I can?

Hypo or Not?

A “serious and important” hypo.

When do you feel the symptoms of a hypo?

The November/December issue of Balance, Diabetes UK’s magazine, reported that researchers have proposed that we need to take a fresh look at defining low blood glucose levels.

At present, a ‘hypo’ (low blood glucose level) is 3.9mmol and below (70.2mg/dL in the US), which the researchers feel isn’t all that low.

A severe hypo is one where someone needs help from another person to recover, something that rarely happens in clinical trials. Rightly so, as letting someone go so low without help wouldn’t be ethical.

Researchers suggest that there should be three levels of hypo – low, lower and oh f*****g shit. I’m kidding, obviously, but they are looking for the level that, below this point, a person’s health is seriously affected, i.e. where their brain, blood and cardiovascular systems are compromised, the risk of death begins to rise, and the level that has an impact on mental health.

Current research suggests these begin to take effect at about 3.0mmol (54mg/dL in the US). The team’s three definitions are:

  • Level 1: 3.9mmol or less –a hypo alert
  • Level 2: less than 3.0mmol – serious and important hypo
  • Level 3: serious hypo, requiring external assistance, even if none is available.

Like all of us, hypos are individual. One person’s “I’m fine at 3.9” is another’s “oh shit”. I sometimes feel the symptoms of a hypo coming on at 4.6, say. Other times, I’ll prick my fingers, get a 3.9 and wonder where it’s come from.

As you can see from the picture, I had a “serious and important hypo” this morning, thanks to undereating and walking too enthusiastically yesterday. Oof. It happens.

Keeping your blood sugar levels stable without going too low is a huge challenge. One of the reasons we promote low-carb eating for type 1s in particular is that the risk of hypos can be reduced because you don’t need to take as much insulin.

If the researchers could include advice about how to avoid hypos, while also achieving good HbA1c results in the long-term, we will cheer them on…


*Some good news! The NHS has approved flash glucose monitoring technology – i.e. systems such as the FreeStyle Libre. I’m off to investigate the possibilities of getting one. Also, big love to the NHS, a wondrous, wondrous institution.



The Diabetes Diet – A Request

We are updating The Diabetes Diet! Our book has been on Amazon for a while now, and we’ve decided to give it a makeover (as well as get it ready for print).

We will be expanding the recipe section, and we wondered if any of our followers would like to contribute to this? Or, if you would like to provide a testimonial about how low-carb eating and matching insulin to your meals works for you, we would welcome that too.

We can’t offer you any money, but we will publicise your own blog or anything else. If you want to tell us about your success following low carb but would prefer to do it anonymously, that’s fine too.

You can find the book here.

To send us recipes or testimonials, please email:

Thanks in advance!

Love Yourself – Follow a Low-Carb Diet!

loveWe’re following tradition here at the Diabetes Diet. What do you do when it’s Valentine’s Day? Try to squeeze in a reference to love in any online activity. And hearts of course. I’m going to try to do both.

If you have diabetes, type 1 or type 2, your body doesn’t respond well to carbohydrates. You can eat a diet high in carbohydrates – it’s just that you won’t feel very well, short-term. In the long-term, a diet high in carbohydrates can lead to high blood glucose levels. This in turn will damage your body and shorten your life.

So, if you love yourself, follow a low-carb diet to minimise the risks of diabetes!

Here’s how to do it.

Read up on all the advice out there. We have a book, The Diabetes Diet that sets out the benefits of low-carb eating. It also includes recipes, daily menu plans and advice about how to manage your medication on a low carb diet. Check out lowcarbdiabetic, a great website for people looking for information and help with their condition.

Follow blogs. Blogs like ours regularly feature low-carb recipes and information and advice for people with diabetes. There are lots of great low-carb blogs out there. See fittoserve, Authority Nutrition, and the Diet Doctor.

Buy some recipe books. A great all-rounder is 500 Low Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, although bear in mind it is an American book so the measures and some of the ingredients will be unfamiliar. The celebrity chef Tom Kerridge has a new book out now – The Dopamine Diet*, featuring the low-carb recipes that helped him lose 11 stones.

Get yourself a carb guide. Online dieting apps are the most useful source for carb guides. Remember that might need to minus the fibre content from the total carbohydrate content. Myfitnesspal offers the most extensive database.

Enjoy it! Low-carb eating is one of the most satisfying and delicious diets you will eat. Cheese, cream, juicy pork chops, grilled sirloin steaks, salmon topped with mayonnaise… what’s not to love? Try out some of our recent recipes:

Think of the benefits. More energy, lower blood glucose levels (leading to less risk of heart disease, see I told you I was going to shoehorn hearts into this piece somewhere), better skin, fat loss if it’s needed – all these are bonuses of low-carbing.


*Review to come!

Low Carb Side Dishes

diabetes dietHave you been caught out by the vegetable shortage in the shops? British supermarkets have run short of courgettes, spinach and other salad items thanks to bad weather in Spain and Italy.

If you follow a low-carb diet, you probably rely more on such vegetables than the average person. I decided to see what I could do with Scottish ingredients. The Diet Doctor website features a lot of cabbage, including main course and side dishes that use this vegetable. Most supermarkets stock Scottish or British-grown cabbage so there are no issues there with availability.

The Diet Doctor’s Cabbage Casserole can be made exclusively with Scottish ingredients, supporting our farmers and growers. I adapted the recipe slightly and here it is. Allow about 10g net carbs per serving and serve with pork chops, roast chicken legs or steak.

Please note – you’ll need a large saucepan because 450g cabbage is bulky. It reduces in size as it cooks.

Cabbage Casserole

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 450g green or white cabbage, shredded
  • ½ medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 50g butter
  • 75g grated cheese
  • 75g soft cheese, such as Philadelphia
  • Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the cabbage and onion and mix well to coat in the butter.

Cook gently for about seven minutes. You want the vegetables to be softened but not browned. Add salt and pepper and the garlic and cook for one minute more.

Mix the sour cream and soft cheese. Stir into the cabbage. Place the mixture in an ovenproof dish, top with the grated cheese, a good helping of black pepper and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

PS – I thought I’d try this on my green vegetable hating husband, convinced that the cream and cheese would convert him. It didn’t work…

New Year Resolutions – A Low Carb Diet?

Bacon, mushroom and poached egg salad.

Are you making New Year resolutions to diet?! It’s that tedious time of year when we are encouraged to self-improve – usually on a big scale.

Punishing diets and exercise regimes work for very few people. Why would you make yourself suffer in that way? But if you do want to improve your health and stabilise your blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, why not opt for the low-carb diet?

Low-carb diets can be easier to stick to than most diets because they tend to be higher in protein which keeps you feeling full for longer. Because they incorporate delicious ingredients like cheese, avocados, oily fish, cream, nuts and more there’s none of the deprivation feelings either.

Remember too that low-carb is a broad church. You can do anything from 45g of carbs a day to 130-150g. If you opt for the higher carb count, fill up on natural sources such as the higher-carb vegetables and fruits.

Resolutions – and any kind of change to the lifestyle – need preparation and planning to succeed. Here are our tips for how to adopt and stick with a low-carb diet:

Plan what you will eat and shop for the ingredients. Our book, The Diabetes Diet, has meal plans in it and you will also find plenty of suggestions online.

If you have type 1 diabetes or you use any blood glucose lowering medication, you need to start a low carb diet cautiously. Read our tips here about preparing to lower your carbohydrate intake and how to adjust medication to suit

Buy one good recipe book. A great example is Dana Carpender’s 500 Low Carb Recipes (left). This is an American recipe book, but most of the ingredients are available over here.

Buy yourself a set of measuring cups. Many of low-carb recipes are American – and Americans use cups to measure, rather than scales. Cup measures are widely available.

The above two suggestions depend on one thing – willingness to cook. Because low-carb diets don’t have many ready-made options, cooking is a necessity. Most low-carb recipes are really easy to follow, but quick and easy ideas are cooked meats and chicken with ready-made salads and dressing, good quality burgers with a slice of cheese, any kind of egg dish or prepared fish and prawn cocktail. You can also buy cauliflower rice these days for an instant accompaniment.

Spicy Peanut Pork

Try out our recipes! Here are some suggestions.

  1. Meatballs
  2. Pancakes
  3. Spicy Peanut Pork
  4. Spinach and Feta Crust-less Quiche
  5. Low-carb Chocolate Cookies
  6. Crab Cakes
  7. Easy Low-Carb Bread

Start following our blog. We update this blog regularly with recipes and health information about diabetes.

All the very best to you for 2017!


Dana Carpender: What Health Conditions Respond to Low Carb Diets?

Dana,  what is the range of health conditions that you have seen respond to a low carb diet in your readers?

The most exciting, perhaps, is polycystic ovarian syndrome, the most common cause of female infertility, and very definitely an insulin-driven illness. Back when I was still self-published, I got an email from a woman who had tried for years to get pregnant, but couldn’t because of PCOS. She read How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, went low carb, got pregnant, and carried the child to term. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me grinning for days.

Commonly, I hear of vastly improved blood work – one fellow had his triglycerides plummet by 1200 points in 2 weeks. People regularly report low trigs and high HDL.

Blood pressure reliably drops, too. It’s common for detractors to say “Oh, you only lost water weight on that diet.” That’s nonsense, of course, but it is true that the very rapid loss of 5-10 pounds in the first week or so is largely water. That’s because when insulin levels drop the kidneys resume excreting sodium properly, and with it the water it was holding. Because of this, blood pressure comes down quickly. (For this reason, people who are medicated for high blood pressure must be under a doctor’s care when they first go low carb. They may need a reduction in medication within days.)

By the way, the proper excretion of sodium means that many low carbers need to increase their salt intake – I’m one of them. If a new low carber is feeling tired, achy, dizzy, headache-y, the first thing to try is increasing salt – heavily salted broth or bouillon works wonderfully.

Energy swings vanish when the blood sugar swings stop. Many annoying symptoms of generalized inflammation, such as arthritis, are reduced or eliminated.

Gastroesophageal reflux, aka heartburn, generally clears up.

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And all kinds of little things – skin conditions, bleeding gums, stuff like that. My husband, who has a mouth full of crowns, hasn’t had a single new cavity since we went low carb 20 years ago. (I still have no fillings at the age of 57.)

Perhaps most surprising was the woman who wrote me to say that since she and her husband had gone low carb, a range of problems had cleared up, including that he had “stopped coughing up blood.” She finished with “You have been a miracle for our family.”

I have no idea how a low carb diet would stop the coughing up of blood, but I’m certainly glad it did.


Dana Carpender is the author of nine cookbooks, including the best-selling 500 Low-Carb Recipes.