Righteous About a Diabetes Diet

Recently, we published an article by Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, titled “From Old Dogmas to New Realities. “In the article, Hope voiced the opinion that a low carb diet is not the only dietary option for people with diabetes, and that, in fact, such thinking is an “old dogma.” In response, we received a number of strongly worded comments advocating the low carb diet as the only way to go.

I am delighted that such a passionate, vocal group of low carbers follows Diabetes Health, but I take issue with their implication that Diabetes Health does not support low carb, and I disagree with their conviction that low carb is the one true path for people with diabetes. 

Twenty years ago, when Drs. Bernstein and Atkins were ridiculed and black-listed in the medical community, Diabetes Health was one of the few voices that applauded and echoed their philosophy. As a result, we received many hate letters voicing disdain for our publication and questioning the reliability of our information.

But it is our culture to venture into new territory and take stands. Years ago, in fact, one of the ADA’s managing editors told us that the ADA could not write about controversial topics unless we broke the story first. We are Californians, out in the Wild West where new ideas don’t scare us.

Oddly enough, writing about Dr. Bernstein when he was unpopular earned us the same diatribes that we are getting today for Hope Warshaw’s article. We published the Warshaw article for the same reason that we published the Bernstein diet: because we believe that people could benefit from it. It’s ironic that many of you who disparaged Hope’s article found out about Dr. Bernstein by reading Diabetes Health. In fact, you are proof of our low carb editorial vision.

Different diets work for different people. Each person’s success is based on how well he or she can realistically integrate a diet into daily life. Because you swim for exercise, does that mean that swimming is the only successful program for everyone who has diabetes? What about your community of diabetic friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances? Are you sure that your way is the only way for their success?

Despite the well documented merits of a low carb diet, the reality is that it’s not successful for everyone. I chose to print Hope’s opinion because I feel that she offers another path for people who cannot embrace a low carb diet, but can successfully manage their disease by eating whole foods and exercising. I would hope that you would support them in exploring other venues to achieve a normal A1C. Isn’t this what you would wish for anyone who has diabetes?

We will soon publish an article about a type 1 who diligently tried the low carb diet and still suffered from a high A1C. Low carb did not work for her. It wasn’t until she persuaded her physician to prescribe metformin for her (which is generally prescribed for people with type 2, not type 1) that she achieved success. After going on metformin, she finally realized normal blood sugar. What works for one may not work for another.

I would like to ask you to be tolerant of other opinions and support whatever modalities allow your peers with diabetes to achieve the success that rewards you. It should not matter what diet people are on, as long as they achieve an A1C that offers them the quality of life that we all want for one another?
Personally, I have not been successful on a low-carb diet, and that’s true of many other people with whom I am familiar. A low carb diet is difficult to stick to. Saying that everyone should be on the low carb diets is like saying that everyone should go to Jenny Craig. Do the people who go there achieve the success they hope for? Yes and no. It’s the same with low carb.

To those of you who are so passionate about low carb, I get it. You have defied conventional wisdom in pursuit of a normal A1C. But there are many, many ways to keep an A1C in the normal range. No one argues the merits of low carb, but it is not for everyone. And giving a stage to one diet does not exclude the merits of the other.

In any case, the real issue about food, one that is not being addressed, is why we eat what we eat. It is a topic that deserved much more exploration. That’s why I plan to publish an interview soon with Carol Normandi, who has written a well-known book titled “It’s Not About Food.”


Best regards,

Nadia Al-Samarrie
Publisher/Editor in Chief/Founder

Diabetes Health Magazine

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