DMP aims to share meal plans designed to lower blood sugar and A1c, which means our menus are low carb (based on extensive research about what works). If you’re new to low carb diabetic eating or you haven’t taken the 30 Day Turnaround Program, switching your eating habits can take a little getting used to.
For instance, if you’ve been eating 200 or 300 grams of carbs per day, then cutting back to 80 grams per day can be a shock to the system and there are a few things you need to be aware of.
Talk to your doctor and healthcare team before getting started
IMPORTANT: Firstly, if you are taking insulin, please consult with your physician or healthcare team before starting any new eating routine. If you do not know how to adjust your medications appropriately, you risk experiencing hypoglycemia. Likewise, if you are taking medication, it is advised that you consult with your doctor to ask if changing your diet, especially reducing your carbohydrate intake, will influence how you should take and medications.
Please be aware that you are voluntarily applying the meal plans and information on the DMP sites, so you assume any and all risks by doing so. That’s why it is advised you seek a professional opinion about your individual situation before getting started.
A new way of eating for life not another diet
Accept that with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, you need to be committed to the right mindset to achieve better health. That means thinking of this as a way of eating for life, not think of it as ‘another diet.’ The word ‘diet’ or thinking you’re on a ‘diet’ gives rise to feelings of deprivation and certainly by eating the way DMP encourages you to do, there is plenty of variety and no need to feel deprived.
Accept that eating a lower carb diet is very flexible, gives you lots of options, and is delicious, plus it helps you achieve better blood sugar and A1c results and improved health overall. It is a type of diet worth sticking to for life – it’s a super healthy diet!
Sure it may take some time to get used to eating different things. But going into this with the right mindset, with commitment to yourself, is very important.
How many carbs have you been eating?
Carbohydrates are the nutrient that have a direct impact on blood sugar and A1c levels, which is why we encourage a lower carb diet.
A great place to start, evaluate how many carbs you’ve been eating per day.
If you’ve been eating a typical Western diet, chances are your carbs are very high:
- Cereals, toast and fruit juice for breakfast
- Sandwiches for lunch
- Pasta, rice, potatoes or noodles for dinner, or packaged and processed foods
A diet filled with carbs can amount to 200 or 300 grams of carbs per day. It’s often good to get some kind of perspective on your starting point before making too many changes.
Decide how you will cut back on carbs
Go cold turkey: If you’re not taking medications, you can go cold turkey, but be aware of the side effects of doing so (see below). Side effects are temporary, but at least if you know what to expect, you can be in the mindset to get through the first week or two of your dietary transition.
Going cold turkey means cutting out all the high carb problematic foods – potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, noodles, packaged and processed foods, etc. Stick to the recommended food list you can download from this page. And of course, using the weekly meal plans will help you stay on course with eating a low carb diet.
Ease in slowly: If you’re taking medications or you prefer a scaled approach, ease into your low carb diet slowly.
For instance, you could start with exchanging breakfast for a lower carb meal, then move to lunch, then finally dinner.
Alternatively, you could add a small serve of higher carb foods to your meal plans to scale down slower. For instance, add a 1/2 cup brown rice to stir fries or stews, add 1/2 cup whole grain pasta to a noodle dish, or add one slice of toast or some oats to breakfast.
Once you get used to eating whole foods, you can then start removing the additional high carb foods from your diet.
You know yourself best, so decide which option is going to work for you best.
Initial ‘Side Effects’ of a Lower Carb Diet
If you’ve been eating a ton of carbs, it’s not surprising that you’ll get a few cravings and weird physical sensations as you cut back. This happens to all of us when we make changes to our diet or exercise routine.
Cravings and Hunger
High carb foods like pasta, bread and rice and foods that bulk up the diet and bulk up the digestive system too. So when you cut these foods out of your diet, at first it can seem like you’re always hungry. Often you’re not hungry, it’s just that you don’t get that full belly feeling you’re used to. And that can take a while to get used to but your body does adjust.
Sometimes it could be that you still are hungry and if that’s the case, eat more food! You certainly do not want to starve yourself. And as your body adapts you will find your food reduction naturally decreases/ adjusts as necessary.
It is also normal to get cravings for sugar and carb-filled foods. This does pass in time. In the meantime, eat more low carb foods or find snacks and treats you can eat that will satisfy your cravings during these times. It is also difficult to avoid cravings all the time. Unfortunately in the world we live in we are surrounded by sugar and carb-filled.
With either hunger or cravings, focus on eating more fat and fiber. Nuts and seeds are a great appetite-satisfying option.
Tiredness and Fatigue
Your body is used to being fuelled off lots of carbs, therefore, initially you can expect a bit of a slump in energy levels.
Your body is perfectly capable of adapting and drawing fuel from fat and protein, which is why a lower carb diet is so effective for weight loss. And as your body switches over you will begin burning more fat. If you don’t need to lose weight, you can still eat a lower carb diet to gain weight. Here’s some tips for you.
Tiredness and fatigue usually pass within a week or two.
Headaches and Brain Fog
It’s fairly common to experience either headaches or brain fog (a lack of clarity and feeling of overwhelm or confusion). This often occurs from days 2-4, and can remain up to the first week. It does subside. The cause of this is often dehydration, so it’s very important to consume lots of water. It can also be caused by lack of salt because of increased urination.
Try adding half a teaspoon of salt to a large glass of water and continue to do so once per day during the first week of switching to a lower carb diet. This is not something that needs to be continued long-term but can help ease the transition during the initial stages.
Due to increased urination, loss of water and minerals can occur, especially magnesium. As above, drink plenty of water, add a half a teaspoon of salt once per day during the first week, and if necessary, add a magnesium supplement to your diet. More info on magnesium here. Pumpkin seeds are also a great magnesium-filled snack.
Dislike of Foods
Nausea and a sense of not enjoying foods can occur for a short period of time during the first few weeks. This is normal and is your body adapting to different foods, smells etc. Our physical body is just as much in a habit as we are with our everyday routine, so switching up your diet does take time to adapt to.
The good news is, your body and your taste buds adapt to a new way of eating relatively quickly!
For instance, if you’ve been used to eating tons of sugar-filled processed foods, your taste buds will be adapted to high sugar, high salt flavors and natural foods such as vegetables can taste bland. In time as you reduce and eliminate these foods, your taste buds come alive again, and before long you enjoy vegetables more than ever before, especially when they are cooked in delicious meals such as we make here at DMP!
Don’t Give Up, Stay Committed
Making any dietary transition can be challenging. The most important thing is you stick to your new way of eating and stay committed to improving your health.
We encourage a lower carb diet for a reason – it works!
Members who are sticking to our dietary recommendations are lowering blood sugar and A1c and enjoying life more. And you will too!
Ensure you use the weekly meal plans, recipes and tools available to you here inside the members site.
It’s okay to move forward slowly, as long as you are moving forward.
For more help on getting started with your diet transition, visit the Members Library where you can find loads of info on foods, carbs, blood sugar and more.