Why didn’t my doctor tell me about this way of eating?

by Jenny Phillips our LowCarbTogether nutritionist

It may be that your GP isn’t yet aware of the benefits of low carb diets in reversing Type 2 diabetes for many people. It is good to know that NICE guidelines, which are evidence-based recommendations for health professionals, do support low carb diets for people with Type 2 diabetes:

The latest guidelines (Dec 2017) for type 2 diabetes recommend that GPs “individualise recommendations for carbohydrate and alcohol intake” while ensuring “high fibre, low Glycaemic Index sources of carbohydrate in the diet for people with T2D”. In other words, avoid not just sugar but the carbs that digest down into a lot of sugar.

There is a now growing body of doctors who are using Dr Unwin’s work, and his sugar infographics –  a helpful way of assessing the sugar impact of foods – to support their patients in changing to a low carb diet.

The reality is though that many GPs are still influenced by the current eating guidelines aka the Eatwell plate. This is why many doctors, unlike Dr Unwin and his followers, still believe Type 2 diabetes to be a progressive disease requiring lifelong (and ever increasing) medication.

You may be aware of the current healthy eating advice illustrated on the Eatwell plate, which encourages you to “base meals on starchy carbohydrates” such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and cereals. The trouble is that these starchy foods break down into glucose, potentially causing blood sugar problems and weight gain. The recommended carbohydrate intake is at least 250g (9oz), which we feel is incredibly high for most people. If you are aiming to manage your blood sugars better, or to lose weight, then this may be up to five times more carbs than your body can handle.

As a nutritionist I see numerous food diaries, and most people are following this advice. I did too before my “health revolution” in 2003: cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and a dinner with potatoes, rice or pasta. There is now a growing body of medical practitioners, such as Dr Unwin, who are recommending dietary advice which is more effective at managing type 2 diabetes (importantly this is recognized within the NHS, although not all doctors are aware of it). This involves restricting starchy carbohydrates, the very foods that cause an increase in blood glucose. Most nutritionists (and many dieticians) agree wholeheartedly and confirm that this approach is also beneficial for weight loss.