That is the conundrum Vickie de Beer found herself in when her 8-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
She says: “After Lucca was diagnosed, we followed the traditional low-GI diet prescribed by doctors and dietitians. Although the doctors told us that Lucca was doing great as his average blood sugars were very good, they also told us to work on the fluctuations in his blood sugars
“We tested and injected regularly and weighed his food, like they said, but they could not tell me what more I could do.
“Then I met Prof Noakes and he convinced me that these fluctuations were caused by the high amount of carbohydrates that Lucca was consuming.
“We started cutting carbs and after two months Lucca’s blood sugars stabilised and he started to feel more energised; in fact, he had a personality change and I wanted to share this information with other mums (in a similar situation).
“I also realised how beneficial the diet was for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes. It turned around their symptoms, with many losing vast quantities of weight, triggering a reduction of their insulin intake.”
Interestingly, her job is connected to the food world - she’s a writer and stylist. This situation had a domino effect on how she approached food.
“Before starting the low-carb diet and witnessing the rapid improvement in Lucca’s health, I thought a low-GI diet was good for you.
“I now realise that all carbohydrates originating from starches like rice, pasta, potatoes and bread are absorbed with lightning speed into your bloodstream causing severe spikes.
“Even if you eat wholewheat bread or brown rice, it doesn’t make a difference. The carbohydrates in our diet now come from fibrous vegetables like cauliflower, pumpkin or broccoli.”
On working with leading dietitian Kath Megaw in The Low Carb Solution for Diabetics, De Beer reveals, “Kath is a specialist paediatric dietitian and she has a lot of experience with the dietary needs of special needs children.
“It was her knowledge of the ketogenic diet, which they prescribed with great results for children suffering from seizures, that helped me to understand how this type of diet can be used for diabetics
“We do not follow a ketogenic diet. We follow a low-carb diet but we do not cut the good fats from our diet.”
“Lucca still needs to inject insulin and fat does not require insulin because it does not create a glucose response in the body. So we inject Lucca for the protein he consumes at every meal together with the low-carb vegetables.”
The two books contain tried and tested recipes that got Lucca’s final stamp of approval.
De Beer says: “I am constantly developing new recipes and learning more about low-carb baking etc, so that is how My Low Carb Kitchen came about.”
The family changed their diet as well. She says: “Once we made the mind shift as a family it was easy not to buy these foods anymore.
“The challenge came in finding substitutes that the whole family liked. I also had to get used to having to bake all the breads and snacks for each week
“It took us almost a year to make a complete change towards low carb. The point of eating a low-carb diet is not to replace every slice of bread, cake or biscuit with low-carb baked goods. It is to eat less of these processed carbohydrates and wean your body of its sugar addiction.”
De Beer says they don’t eat bread or pasta anymore and have veggies instead. “I only bake the bread rolls once a week for lunch boxes and maybe a snack like low-carb cupcakes or brownies as a treat.”
The Low Carb Solution for Diabetics retails for R335 and My Low Carb Kitchen is R295. Both lifestyle cookbooks are published by Quivertree Publications.