Potato Eaters

No, not one of mine. This is “The Potato Eaters” by Vincent van Gogh. A deeply touching look into the life of the poorest of poor. Yet the scene is joyful: potatoes for dinner.

Many experts are adamant that potatoes are verboten for diabetics. Spuds allegedly are high on the glycemic index, pure carbs that spike blood sugar, and everybody knows that diabetics cannot process carbs.

When I was a low carber, I believed Dr Bernstein and his killjoy friends. I ate no potatoes for 18 months. And no mangoes. “Do not eat anything that grows below the ground”, said Bernstein. “No spuds, no onions. You can have one cherry tomato with your salad.” That was the worst part of being a D. I was diagnosed at the very start of the mango season. I LOVE mangoes! Couldn’t eat them.

The experts are right. And seriously wrong.

Hundreds if not thousands of experiments have shown that spuds spike sugar. And require lots of insulin to normalise that pesky sugar. The fundamental flaw in those experiments is that the standard diet is taken as a given. If potatoes are added to that, then yes, blood sugar goes up, and stays up. That’s where the pundits are right.

If all fat and oil are taken out of the diet, and then spuds are added, a different picture emerges. Blood sugar does go up, and then straight down. In my case with the aid of zero rapid acting insulin. The basal slow acting insulin takes care of it. Same with mangoes, and oats, rice, sugar – yes, even that vilified table sugar – tomatoes , all glorious carbs are equally loved by my carb-dependent cells.

And this is where the experts are wrong: they assume that fat should be part of the standard diet. Take fat out, and carbs are no longer a problem.

Fat causes insulin resistance.

I eat 700 grams of plant-only carbs a day (including up to one kilo of potatoes, 3 mangoes and lots of cherry tomatoes), HbA1c = 5.6%, total cholesterol = 2.4 mmol. I exercise 3-4 hours, and need a grand total of only 4 units of slow acting Levemir per day.

When I ditched the fat a year ago, for a time I hated Bernstein, Ellen Davis and the low carb crowd. Now I feel sorry for the killjoys, sorry that they can’t experience the simple joy of carbs.

I can imagine myself in Vincent’s painting: insulin poor, but deeply happy. I eat potatoes.

About the author Rien

dutch by birth 🇳🇱 | australian by choice 🇦🇺 | type 1 diabetic 💉 | married ❤️⚭ | grandfather 👴🏻 | fujifilm photographer 📷 | boat builder and sailor ⛵️ | seeker no more 🚫📖

All posts by Rien →


  1. Long live the humble potato. Great stuff.



  2. The man truly was a genius, field-mouse poor and a cultural billionaire. If you have proven anything Rien, it is never to trust an expert.



  3. Great post, very accurate. I honestly wish I could enjoy potatoes without fat. I just can’t. Instead I have them rarely, roasted and served with lots of butter…sorry.



    1. I appreciate your comment. For me, after 18 months of no carbs even raw potatoes almost tasted good 😉. I haven’t needed to inject any bolus insulin since progressing from very low carb / high fat to high carb / no fat. There’s a real freedom in that.



  4. Wow! This truly shows just how different each of us are. My body does not work well with carbs. I’m one of “those” diabetics that eats low carb and high fat, but it works for me. I’m glad we both found what works best for us!



    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Great that low carb works for you. Do keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure. There is no point in having great sugars, and also getting cardiovascular disease 😉.

      Liked by 1 person


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