What Can I Eat on the Bernstein Diet?

What Can I Eat on the Bernstein Diet?

The following section is written by Dr. Bernstein.

It’s a good question, and the same one I asked myself more than thirty years ago.. In the following pages, I’ll give you a broad overview of the kinds of food my patients and I usually eat. Please remember that with the exception of the no-calorie beverages (including seltzer water and mineral water with no added carbohydrate) and moderate portions of sugar-free Jell-O without maltodextrin, there are no “freebies.” Virtually everything we eat will have some effect upon blood sugar if enough is consumed.


Most vegetables, are acceptable. Acceptable vegetables include asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and sauerkraut, cauliflower, eggplant, onions (in small amounts), peppers (any color except yellow), mushrooms, spinach, string beans, summer squash, and zucchini. As a rule of thumb, 2/3 cup of whole cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup of diced or sliced cooked vegetable, 1/4 cup mashed cooked vegetable, or 1 cup of mixed salad acts upon blood sugar as if it contains about 6 grams of carbohydrate. Remember that cooked vegetables tend to raise blood sugar more rapidly than raw vegetables because the heat makes them more digestible and converts some of the cellulose to sugar. Generally, more cooked vegetables by weight will occupy less volume in a measuring cup, so ? cup cooked spinach will weigh considerably more than ? cup uncooked. On your self-measurements, note how your favorite vegetables affect your blood sugar. Raw vegetables can present digestive problems to people with gastroparesis.

Of the following vegetables, each acts upon blood sugar as if it contains about 6 grams of carbohydrate in 2/3 cup (all cooked except as noted):

•artichoke hearts


•bamboo shoots

•beet greens

•bell peppers (green and red only, no yellow) (cooked or raw)

•bok choy (Chinese cabbage)


•brussels sprouts



•celery root (celeriac)

•collard greens

•daikon radish

•dandelion greens




•hearts of palm



•mustard greens


•patty pan squash






•snow peas

•spaghetti squash


•string beans

•summer squash

•turnip greens


•water chestnuts



•zucchini flowers

In addition to the above, you should keep the following in mind:

•Onions are high in carbohydrate and should only be used in small amounts for flavoring—small amounts of chives or shallots can pack a lot of flavor.

•One-half small avocado contains about 6 grams of carbohydrate.

•One cup mixed green salad without carrots and with a single slice of tomato or onion has about the same impact on blood sugars as 6 grams of carbohydrate.

•One-quarter cup mashed pumpkin contains about 6 grams of carbohydrate. My own opinion is that without some flavoring, pumpkin tastes about as appetizing as Kleenex. Therefore I flavor it with much stevia and spice (cinnamon) and warm it to make it a bit like pumpkin pie filling. (For other vegetables from this list, such as turnips, assume that ¼ cup of the mashed product contains 6 grams of carbohydrate.)

Meat, Fish, Fowl, Seafood, and Eggs

These are usually the major sources of calories in the meal plans of my patients. The popular press is currently down on meat and eggs, but my personal observations and recent research implicate carbohydrates rather than dietary fat in the heart disease and abnormal blood lipid profiles of diabetics and even of nondiabetics. If you are frightened of these foods, you can restrict them, but depriving yourself will be unlikely to buy you anything.. Egg yolks, by the way, are a major source of the nutrient lutein, which is beneficial to the retina of the eye. Organic eggs contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your arteries.

Tofu, and Soybean Substitutes for Bacon, Sausage, Hamburger, Fish, Chicken, and Steak

About half the calories in these products come from benevolent vegetable fats, and the balance from varying amounts of protein and slow-acting carbohydrate. They are easy to cook in a skillet or microwave. Protein and carbohydrate content should be read from the labels and counted in your meal plan. Their principal value is for

people who are vegetarian or want to avoid red meat. Health food stores stock many of these products..

Certain Commercially Prepared and Homemade Soups

Although most commercial and homemade soups contain large amounts of simple sugars, you can learn how to buy or prepare lowor zero-carbohydrate soups.Many but not all packaged bouillon preparations have no added sugar and only small amounts of carbohydrate. Check the labels or use the Clinistix/Diastix test,

Homemade soups, cooked without vegetables, can be made very tasty if they are concentrated. You can achieve this by barely covering the meat or chicken with water while cooking, rather than filling the entire pot with water, as is the customary procedure. Alternatively, let the stock cook down (reduce) so you get a more concentrated, flavorful soup. You can also use herbs and spices, all of which have negligible amounts of carbohydrates, to enhance flavor. “Mustard, Pepper, Salt, Spices, Herbs,” . Clam broth (not chowder) is usually very low in carbohydrate. In the United States you can also buy clam juices (not Clamato), which contain only about 2 grams of carbohydrate in 3 fluid ounces. Campbell’s canned beef bouillon and consommé contain only 1 gram carbohydrate per serving. College Inn brand canned chicken broth contains no carbohydrate.Most bouillon cubes are also low in carbohydrate; read the labels.

Cheese, Butter, Margarine, and Cream

Most cheeses (other than cottage cheese) contain approximately equal amounts of protein and fat and small amounts of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate and the protein must be figured into the meal plan,. For people who want to avoid animal fats, there are some special soybean cheeses (not very tasty). . Cheese is an excellent source of calcium. Every ounce of whole milk cheese contains approximately 1 gram carbohydrate, except cottage cheese, which contains more. Generally speaking, where dairy products are concerned, the lower the fat, the higher the sugar lactose, with skim milk cheeses containing the most lactose and the least fat, and butter containing no lactose and the most fat.

Neither butter nor magarine in my experience will affect your blood sugar significantly, and they shouldn’t be a problem as far as weight is concerned if you’re not consuming a lot of carbohydrate along with them. One tablespoon of cream has only 0.5 gram carbohydrate—it would take 8 tablespoons to raise my blood sugar 20 mg/dl. .


Although personally I don’t enjoy yogurt, many of my patients feel they cannot survive without it. For our purposes the plain whole milk yogurt, unflavored, unsweetened, and without fruit, is a reasonable food. A full 8-ounce container of plain, Erivan brand, unflavored whole milk yogurt contains only 11 grams of carbohydrate and 2 ounces of protein. You can even throw in some chopped vegetables and not exceed the 12 grams of carbohydrate limit we suggest for

lunch. Do not use nonfat yogurt. The carbohydrate goes up to 17 grams per 8-ounce container. Yogurt can be flavored with cinnamon, with Da Vinci brand syrups, with baking flavor extracts, or with the powder from sugar-free Jell-O brand gelatin (if the package doesn’t list maltodextrin as an ingredient) without affecting the carbohydrate content. It can be sweetened with stevia liquid or powder or with Equal or Splenda tablets that have been dissolved in a small amount of hot water. Erivan brand yogurt is available at health food stores throughout the United States. If you read labels, you may find brands similarly low in carbohydrate in your supermarket; two such brands are Stonyfield Farm and Brown Cow Farm.


There are many soy products that can be used in our diet plan, and soymilk is no exception. It’s a satisfactory lightener for coffee and tea, and one of my patients adds a small amount to diet sodas. Others drink it as a beverage, either straight or with added flavoring such as those mentioned for yogurt. Personally, I find the taste too bland to drink without flavoring, and I much prefer cream diluted with water.

When used in small amounts (up to 2 tablespoons/1 ounce), soymilk need not be figured into the meal plan. It will curdle if you put it into very hot drinks.

Soybean Flour

If you or someone in your home is willing to try baking with soybean flour, you will find a neat solution to the pastry restriction. One ounce of full-fat soybean flour (about ¼ cup) contains about 7.5 grams of slow-acting carbohydrate. You could make chicken pies, tuna pies, and even sugar-free Jell-O pies or pumpkin pies. Just remember to include the carbohydrate and protein contents in your meal plan.

Soybean flour usually must be blended with egg to form a batter suitable for breads, cakes, and the like.

Note: In the United States, labeling regulations require that fiber be listed as carbohydrate. There are many different kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble, digestible and undigestible, and so, because there is no requirement to distinguish in labeling between them, these listings can complicate computation of carbohydrate content. Use the carbohydrate amounts that I have listed above instead of those listed on the package labels.

Sweeteners: Saccharin, Aspartame, Stevia, Splenda, and Cyclamate

I carry a package of Equal (aspartame) tablets with me, particularly when I go out to eat. Cyclamate is not currently available in the United States, but may be returning. Aspartame is destroyed by cooking and is much more costly than saccharin, which has a bitter aftertaste, but it will work for sweetening hot coffee or tea. I find that using one ½- grain saccharin tablet for every Equal tablet rather than two saccharin tablets or two Equal tablets eliminates saccharin’s aftertaste and keeps costs down. Equal tablets are available in most pharmacies and many supermarkets. Although Equal tablets contain lactose, the amount is too small to affect blood sugar.

Acesulfame-K is a new artificial sweetener being marketed in tablet form outside the United States by Hoechst, AG, of Germany. It is not degraded by cooking. It is added to some “sugar-free” foods in the United States under the brand name Sunette, and is combined with glucose in the packaged powder called The Sweet One, which you obviously should avoid. There are, however, some questions about its causing cancer, so there may be better choices. Other noncaloric tablet sweeteners will be appearing on grocery shelves in the United States in the future. Stevia, mentioned earlier, is an herbal sweetener and has been available in health food stores for many years. It is not degraded by cooking and is packaged in powder and liquid forms. The liquid must be refrigerated to prevent spoiling. Stevia has not yet been approved in the European Union because of fears that it may cause cancer. Studies of this “possibility” are under way.

Splenda (sucralose) tablets are available now in some parts of the United States, overseas, and on the Internet. They are benign in spite of containing minute amounts of lactose. In powdered form, Splenda, like the others except stevia, is principally a mixture of sugars to provide bulk and should be avoided.

Mustard, Pepper, Salt, Spices, Herbs

Most commercial mustards are made without sugar and contain essentially no carbohydrate. This can readily be determined for a given brand by reading the label or by using the Clinistix/Diastix test. Pepper and salt have no effect upon blood sugar. Hypertensive individuals with proven salt sensitivity should, of course, avoid salt and highly salted foods

Most herbs and spices have very low carbohydrate content and are used in such small amounts that the amount of ingested carbohydrate will be insignificant. Watch out, however, for certain combinations such as powdered cinnamon with sugar. Just read the labels.

source:same as in theprevious thread posted earlier

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13 Replies

  • i have posted this further to my post for only infn. Essentially Dr breinstein high lights very low carb high protein and moderate fat diet plan.It woul appear the diet aceptable to him and his patients as suggested may not be relevent to us in india and many may not be available in india.It may be feasible to find equivlent items by those in india.and use to their best understanding.

  • He also mentions that all natural form of protein foods have just 20% protein.. Rest being fats, water and indigestible gristle

    He recommends only natural form of foods

    Not protein powder devoid of Fats

  • Number crunching is not their strong point:


  • 82 year old T1 diabetic?

    Doing something right!

    The above should cover things for T2 as well. Only objection from me is soya and make sure fat is right up there. Outside of that - excellent post!

  • MikePollard

    So you are saying you are following low cab high prots low/ intermediate fat diet ?

  • Is Dr B's diet high protein? For weight maint and sedentary lifestyle guy his recommendation is 1.2gms/kg. If one wants to gain weight then increase that else NO.

    And, simply eating high protein and sitting idle will never increase weight as high proteins kill hunger. So, one has to start strength training, with increased protein in diet.

  • Anup

    i don't think mike wants to increase weight. This is wrt controlling D. Is high protein recommended. What about load on kidneys which are already under stress of D ?

  • Well, Dr B puts the protein for avg Joe and Jane to 1.2gm/Kg.

    Technically, protein assimilation has to be monitored by checking for urea etc which will tell us at what levels of protein intake we are just not assimilating it properly and then stay below that threshold.

  • Anup

    yup. Rightly said

  • SCIENCE is always right. We have to check assimilation of proteins based on excretion too and no one talks about this.

    This is science of "Material Balance" -- something which has great relevance on Chemical Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering :)

  • Dear sir ragivrao ji

    I would request you to read the Proteins section and Fats section in the book of Dr Richard Bernstein for vegetarians better understanding

    Rather than just posing some individual section

    It's like not revealing the entire story

  • चाचा का कुरता

    मामा का पायजामा

    This is what selective cherry picking is all about to dress up.

  • Well.. They will feel offended if not

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