My Sad, but Funny, History With Carbs

In one chapter of my book (published in March, 2010) I recalled several things from the history of diabetes. One paragraph from that chapter is given here:

"There were two schools of thought in the 17'th century. One theory proposed replacing the sugar lost in the urine by following a diet high in carbohydrates. The second school believed that carbohydrates should be restricted to reduce excess sugar. Eureka!!! That may have been the first time excessive carbohydrates was considered to be detrimental to diabetics. The first theory seemed to be much more popular, and the idea of restricting carbohydrates seems to have been lost for the next few centuries. I say that because treatments being proposed in the late 1800's included bleeding, blistering and doping, with no further reference to restriction of carbohydrates. What a shame!!! If the second school of thought had become the popular one, that may have accelerated the advancements in the years that followed."

In 1945, the year of my diagnosis, carbohydrates were never mentioned. I did not know about the effect of carbohydrates until the late 1980's. That was about 300 years after the initial proposal that carbohydrates should be limited in a diabetic's diet.

Why was the initial theory ignored for so long? I used to think about that a lot, and it made me angry!

There are many things that my doctors never told me and one of them was that I should follow a low carb diet. I found that tidbit in a magazine. My doctor assumed I already knew that, but I didn't. I am so fortunate to have avoided complications for more than 40 years while eating hundreds of carbs every day. I avoided sugar, but ate many, many carbs. Avoiding sugar was the only advice I was given for so many years.

In modern times, with all the technology that is now available, and all that is known about proper diabetes care, it is much easier to avoid complications. My attitude about my diabetes and the mishaps that happen, has changed. I can now laugh at things that used to make me mad. A sense of humor has totally replaced my former bitterness. That sense of humor has helped me so many times, in so many ways. I can now laugh about the carbs I should not have eaten, and I can laugh about the things I should have been told. Laughter is the best medicine I know!

Views: 132

Comment by Tim on July 30, 2010 at 5:21am
I was diagnosed in the very early 80's and after a stretch of just doing urine testing and the ADA exchange diet, I got hooked up with the pediatric endos at the state research hospital and they turned me on to home bg testing and carb counting. Then 4-5 years after that I went away to college and figured out MDI on my own. That's really the first time I felt I had any real control of my bg's.

My opinion, today 30 years later, is that carbs are obviously very important but I have been finding that "simple" carb counting misses out on a lot of fundamental things. Non-carboydrate foods have fundamental effects on my bg's that are not accounted for by the simplistic "carbs are the only things that affect bg's" selling of carb-counting that has become increasingly popular in recent years especially the obsession with "spiking" after meals.

The ADA exchange diet includes carb counting (after all, that's what the starch exchanges are, they are exactly translatable to grams of carbs) even if you were never told about it. But it also allows a reasonable way of thinking about fats and proteins, and how they not only modify the absorption of carbs, but also turn into carbs hours after the meal through gluconeogenesis. Everything old is new again, maybe!
Comment by Doris D on July 30, 2010 at 7:42pm
You know I never knew about the carbs for MANY years. The Drs always told me to count my calories. Weird huh?
Comment by Richard157 on July 31, 2010 at 11:42am
Tim and Doris, those are interesting replies. thanks!
Comment by Anthony Holko on August 2, 2010 at 12:40am
Winning washes away all sin.
Comment by YogaO on August 3, 2010 at 11:49am

When I was diagnosed in 1973, I remember my internist making sure we got the ADA booklets that described the (dreaded) exchange diet, but he promoted counting calories by measuring carb, protein and fat grams and then multiplying by 4, 4, and 9 respectively. Oh, and NO SUGAR - EVER!

My mother had this huge notebook where she recorded all the data from a variety of meals. My doctor had me on 4,000 calories/day. I can remember eating two large bowls of puffed rice cereal for breakfast and then eating a small, disgusting organic peanut butter sandwich @ 10AM. Most of the rest is lost in the recesses of my mind.

Thanks for getting me to drag up those memories, I think(?)

Fair Winds,
Comment by Richard157 on August 3, 2010 at 2:27pm
Jag, I posted that in the 17'th century, researchers had found that a low carb diet would help diabetics. Despite that fact, I did not know that I should eat low carb until 1988. No doctor ever told me. You are lucky that you found out in 1973. I wish I had know then.
Comment by Richard157 on August 4, 2010 at 12:26pm
Jag, I was on one injection per day at diagnosis in 1945. It was that way until the 1990s when I used the N and R insulins.


You need to be a member of Diabetes community by Diabetes Hands Foundation: TuDiabetes to add comments!

Join Diabetes community by Diabetes Hands Foundation: TuDiabetes



From the Diabetes Hands Foundation blog...

DHF Joins Diabetes Advocacy Alliance

Diabetes Hands Foundation is incredibly honored to join the Diabetes Advocacy Alliance, an organization with the drive and potential to affect a powerful, positive impact on diabetes and healthcare policy. Diabetes Advocacy Alliance is a 20-member coalition of leading professional Read on! →

Helmsley Charitable Trust Renews Support for DHF

HELMSLEY CHARITABLE TRUST GRANTS SUPPORT TO DIABETES HANDS FOUNDATION FOR FOURTH YEAR  Funding in 2015 to support major transitions in programs and leadership at Diabetes Hands Foundation BERKELEY, CA: February 18, 2015 – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Read on! →

Diabetes Hands Foundation Team


Melissa Lee
(Interim Executive Director, Editor, has type 1)

Manny Hernandez
(Co-Founder, has LADA)

Emily Coles (Head of Communities, has type 1)

Mila Ferrer
(EsTuDiabetes Community Manager, mother of a child with type 1)

Mike Lawson
(Head of Experience, has type 1)

Corinna Cornejo
(Director of Operations and Development, has type 2)

Desiree Johnson  (Administrative and Programs Assistant, has type 1)


Lead Administrator

Brian (bsc) (has type 2)


Lorraine (mother of type 1)
Marie B (has type 1)

DanP (has Type 1)

Gary (has type 2)

David (has type 2)


LIKE us on Facebook

Spread the word


This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

© 2015   A community of people touched by diabetes, run by the Diabetes Hands Foundation.

Badges  |  Contact Us  |  Terms of Service