Food Lists for Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet

plate of different sliced and cubed cheeses
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Designed for people with diabetes, like himself, Dr. Bernsteins' Diabetes Diet is a popular choice for many people. It can be used by those who do not have diabetes as a way to lose weight.

As with most diet plans, Dr. Berstein includes a number of foods that you can and cannot eat when following his diet. The following lists provide an easy reference to the forbidden and acceptable foods the author includes in his books.

Forbidden Foods List

On Dr. Bernstein's program, foods that produce a rapid rise in blood glucose are out. Forbidden foods include the usual suspects like sweets and fruit juices, though some of the grains and starches may surprise you.

Sweets and Sweeteners

  • Fructose, corn syrup, molasses, etc, or foods which contain them such as candy and regular soda.
  • Foods containing other ingredients which are types of sugar. This includes agave nectar, dextrose, sorghum, and many other ingredients that are often "disguised" sugars.
  • Sugar alcohols such as maltitol, sorbitol, etc., This includes foods which contain them, including sugar-free candy and other "diet" or "sugar-free" foods
  • Most desserts, including pies, cakes, cookies, etc.
  • Powdered artificial sweeteners that add carbs (see section on artificial sweeteners in the "Allowed Foods" section).

Grains and Grain Products

Any product made from wheat, barley, corn, rice, quinoa, rye, etc., are forbidden in the program, including:

  • Breads
  • Crackers
  • Other products made with flour
  • Cereal, including oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Pancakes and waffles

Sweet or Starchy Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Winter squash
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Yellow bell peppers
  • Legumes
  • Onions (except in small amounts)
  • Raw tomatoes (except in small amounts)
  • Cooked tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce
  • Packaged vegetables containing sugars or flour

Fruits or Fruit Juices

All fruits and fruit juices are on the forbidden foods list. The exception is that some people may drink tomato juice in a Bloody Mary if it doesn't cause blood glucose to rise.

Dairy Products

  • Milk
  • Sweetened yogurts
  • Most low-fat and nonfat yogurts that have added carbs
  • Cottage cheese, except in small amounts
  • Powdered milk substitutes and coffee lighteners
  • Evaporated or condensed milk

Other Foods

  • Nuts except in small amounts (count the carbs)
  • Most processed and prepared foods, snack foods, etc.
  • Most condiments, including balsamic vinegar

Allowed Foods List

That list may leave you wondering what exactly you can eat of Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet. As you can see, there are still plenty of foods available to you.


Most meats and protein foods are allowed unless carbs are added.


Vegetables that are not on the forbidden list are acceptable. Generally, you can gauge the carb count of vegetables with a simple formula: count 1 cup raw, 2/3 cup cooked, or 1/4 cup pureed or mashed as 6 grams of carbohydrate.

Dairy Products

  • Cheeses: count one gram of carb per ounce for most cheeses
  • Yogurt: full fat, unsweetened, 11 grams of carb
  • Cream: half a gram of carb per tablespoon
  • Unsweetened soymilk can be used as a milk substitute
  • Butter or margarine

Grain substitutes

  • Soy flour has 7.5 grams of carbohydrate per 1/4 cup
  • Certain bran crackers (read labels)


Artificial sweeteners are allowed unless they have added sugar (usually in the form of dextrose or maltodextrin), as most powdered sweeteners do. Exceptions are liquid sources of artificial sweeteners or those which come in small tablets.


Nuts are allowed, but you need to count the carbs. It's also key to "know thyself" because many people have a hard time stopping when they eat nuts. Consider counting out servings ahead of time and storing these nut portions in the freezer.

Condiments and Flavorings

Condiments and ingredients used to add flavor to food are okay as long as they don't contain sugar. This includes spices, herbs, mustard, sugar-free and low carb salad dressings, and sugar-free flavorings and extracts.


The program keeps things simple and approved beverages include water, sparkling water, club soda, diet soda, coffee, and tea. Also, low carb alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed in moderate amounts.


If you thought sweet treats were out of the question, think again. You can still enjoy them, but it's important to shop and bake according to the diet.

  • Ready-made sugar-free Jell-O brand gelatin or other truly sugar-free brands of gelatin are okay. Check the label for hidden sugar, especially for maltodextrin because it is common in the powdered gelatins.
  • Sugar-free puddings can be made with low carb dairy alternatives and can count as six grams of carbs as part of your meal plan.
  • Homemade low-carb desserts such as those found in Bernstein's book or any proven low-carb dessert recipes.
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Article Sources
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  • Bernstein RK. Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars. 4th ed. Little, Brown and Company. 2011.