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The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD (2012): What to eat and foods to avoid

The Blood Sugar Solution - book by Mark Hyman MDThe Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark HymanThe Blood Sugar Solution (2012) is a book about reducing the risk of “diabesity,” the continuum from optimal blood sugar balance toward insulin resistance and full-blown diabetes. Food guidelines:

  • Eat natural, unprocessed foods
  • Eat moderate amounts of low-glycemic-load carbs – with stricter limits for the advanced program
  • Avoid dairy and gluten during the program to allow the gut to heal
  • 1 week preparation, 6 weeks program (basic or advanced)

Below on this page is a full description of the food recommendations. Preparation | General guidelines | Basic program | Advanced program | Boosting your nutrition | Reintroduction and diet for life. The book has a lot more information in it.

Get a copy of The Blood Sugar Solution for more information on the reasons behind the recommendations, hormone regulation, quizzes, supplementation, menus, recipes, resources and more.
Also, get The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook for a detailed list of serving sizes and many more recipes for the Basic Program and the Advanced Program as well as Reintroduction, and a few desserts.

Note that this is the original book / basic plan – see also The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet by the same author for his detox diet.

The reasoning behind The Blood Sugar Solution

This book encourages the use of functional medicine – asking the question “why?” – not just “what is the right drug for this disease?” The goal is to understand what disturbs the normal function of these systems, and how we can best create optimal function. It states that nearly all people who are overweight (over 70% of adult Americans) already have “pre-diabetes” and have significant risks of disease and death. Managing blood sugar and insulin levels through diet and supplements reduces this risk better than drugs.

The Blood Sugar Solution diet plan – food list

The book calls for 1 week preparation and a 6 week program, followed by a diet for life. There are two plans, the basic plan and the advanced plan – the advanced plan has a more restrictive diet for 6 weeks and a more comprehensive supplement plan.

This description combines The Blood Sugar Solution and The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Because the cookbook was written a year after the diet book, which had been successful, there are some minor tweaks between the two. We’ve tried to note them here.

Preparation | General guidelines | Basic program | Advanced program | Boosting your nutrition | Reintroduction and diet for life

One week preparation

One week before the program, cut out addictive substances from your diet.

The Blood Sugar Solution 1 week preparation – what to eat

If it came from the earth or from a farmer’s field, not a food chemist’s lab, it’s safe to eat.

The Blood Sugar Solution 1 week preparation – foods to avoid

These are foods you’ll cut out completely:

  • Sugars and carbs
    • All sugar, with any name – including agave nectar, organic cane juice, cane syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, etc.; also high fructose corn syrup HFCS
    • Highly processed carbs that act like sugar, including all flour products, breads, pastas, etc. Especially foods with white flour and white rice. Check labels – there’s a lot of sugar in ketchup, for example
  • Processed foods and additives
    • Foods with labels and more than five ingredients, or with health claims on the label, or with ingredients you can’t pronounce
    • Foods with preservatives, additives, coloring, or dyes, “natural flavorings,” or flavor enhancers such as MSG (monosodium glutamate)
    • Foods with artificial sweeteners, e.g. aspartame, NutraSweet, Splenda, sucralose, sugar alcohols (end with “ol,” such as xylitol or sorbitol)
  • Unhealthy fats
    • Foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the label
    • Highly refined cooking oils such as corn oil, soy oil

Beware of foods without labels

And here are foods that you’ll cut out for 7 weeks – the preparation week plus the 6 week program:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

General guidelines on food choices – for both basic and advanced programs

General – what to eat

If it came from the earth or a farmer’s field, not a food chemist’s lab, it’s safe to eat.

  • Meal guidelines
    • Always have breakfast, with proteins such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, or a protein shake
    • Eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks. Eat every 3-4 hours, and try to schedule meals at the same time every day. Have small, frequent, fiber-rich meals throughout the day. Stop eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed
    • Each meal can have up to 15 grams of carbohydrates, and each snack can have up to 7.5 grams. If you exercise regularly or increase your exercise routine while on this program, you can slowly begin to increase these amounts. But have no more than 30 grams of carbs at a meal unless they come from low-glycemic vegetables. As your insulin sensitivity improves, you can increase your consumption of natural carbohydrates to 30-50 grams per meal. Choose nonstarchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lower-glycemic fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, apples, and pears. You should eliminate refined carbs and sugars for the first 6 weeks on the program, then you can have an occasional small treat once a week if it doesn’t trigger sugar or carb binging
    • Eat a low-glycemic-load diet, to avoid spiking blood sugar and insulin (the restrictions above will automatically lead to this)
    • Combine good protein (fish, organic eggs, small amounts of lean poultry, nuts, whole soy foods, and legumes), good fats (fish, extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, olives, nuts other than peanuts, seeds, and avocados), and good carbs (in moderation) (beans, vegetables, whole grains, and fruit) at each meal to balance your blood sugar
    • On half of your plate, put low-starch vegetables (you can refill this part as much as you want). On one quarter of your plate, put some lean protein (following the guidelines above). On the other quarter, add either ½ cup of whole grains (ideally brown or black rice or quinoa) or ½ cup of starchy vegetables such as sweet potato or winter squash. If you are on the Advanced Plan, make your plate 75% low-starch vegetables and 25% protein; skip the grains and starchy vegetables
    • Eat a wide range of produce – red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables; dark green leafy vegetables; dark blue, purple, or red fruits and vegetables; cruciferous vegetables; allium vegetables; citrus fruits; sea vegetables; low-glycemic fruits and vegetables; konjac
    • If you have advanced diabesity or are on the advanced program, make vegetables ¾ of your plate and protein ¼ – until your metabolism resets and you become more insulin-sensitive, about 6 weeks to 12 months
    • Eat more: whole foods, fiber, omega-3 fats
    • Look for foods with a low glycemic load (GL) and a high phytonutrient index (PI – colorful fruits and veggies)
    • Practice mindful eating: Take 5 slow breaths before a meal; offer gratitude before your meal; bring your attention fully to the food; put your fork down between bites, and chew your food well
  • Eat local and seasonal food where possible – support your farmers market and CSA
  • Vegetables
    • Eat organic if you can, especially the EWG’s dirty dozen
    • Green carbs – eat freely: artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beet greens, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, broccoli rabe, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chile peppers, Chinese broccoli, collard greens, cucumbers, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, garlic, ginger root, green beans, fennel, hearts of palm, jicama, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, napa cabbage, onions (all types), peppers (all types), radicchio, radishes, scallions, seaweed/sea vegetables (e.g. arame, dulse, hijiki, kombu, wakame, etc.), shallots, snap beans, snap peas, snow peas, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip greens, watercress, yellow squash, zucchini. Serving size: 3 cups salad greens, 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked – but these are essentially free foods, eat as much as you’d like
    • Red carbs – eat limited amounts (avoid on the advanced program): starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, e.g. beets, butternut squash, carrots, corn, delicata squash, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes / yams, turnips, winter squash. Serving size: 1 cup winter squash, ½ sweet potato
    • There are some starchy vegetables listed in the book but not defined as starchy so the guidelines aren’t clear: carrots, turnips, yams
    • Superfood vegetables: arugula, avocado, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, cilantro, dandelion greens, onions, parsley, sea vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, shirataki noodles (made from konjac, not soy), sprouts (especially broccoli sprouts), sweet potatoes, watercress
  • Poultry
    • Serving size 4 ounces
    • Look for organic, pasture-raised and antibiotic- and hormone-free
    • Remove the skin before cooking
    • Chicken, turkey
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite sources for high-quality poultry: Bell & Evans, local farmers’ markets, Murray’s Chicken, Plainville Farms, Whole Foods Market
  • Seafood
    • Serving size 4 ounces
    • Look for small, wild, or sustainably raised cold-water fish. For guidelines on low-mercury fish, visit http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/walletcard.pdf to download a wallet card you can carry with you for reference when you are shopping. Also see http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx for information on which fish may be in danger because of depleted stocks or nonsustainable harvesting practices
    • Fish – e.g. cod, anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic), flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel/chub mackerel (North Atlantic), mullet, perch (ocean), plaice, pollock, wild salmon (canned or fresh), sardines, shad (American), sole, tilapia, trout (freshwater), white fish, whiting. Cod and halibut are also included in recipes
    • Shellfish – e.g. clams, crab (domestic), crawfish/crayfish, mussels, oyster, scallops, shrimp, squid/calamari
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite sources for safe fish: CleanFish, Crown Prince Natural, EcoFish, SeaBear, Vital Choice
    • Superfood fish: sardines, wild salmon (fresh or canned)
  • Meat
    • Serving size 4 ounces
    • Look for pasture-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic- and hormone-free; also local if possible
    • There are no meat recipes in the diet book and only a couple in the cookbook; it looks like it’s discouraged but there’s nothing saying so
    • The only meat listed in the book is lamb – beef and pork and other meats are not ruled out but not listed
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite sources for high-quality meat: community-supported agriculture (CSAs), Eatwild, local farms or farmers’ markets, Whole Foods Market. See http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/ for a guide to eating meat that is both good for you and good for the planet
  • Eggs
    • Omega-3 eggs or free-range eggs
    • Whole eggs are okay
    • Up to 8 a week
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite sources for high-quality eggs: Organic Valley, Pete & Gerry’s Organics
    • Superfood eggs: omega-3 eggs
  • Legumes
    • These are yellow carbs – eat in moderation (and it looks like they can be eaten in the advanced program). Serving size 1/3 cup limit if you are on the Advanced Plan, cooked or canned
    • Beans – e.g. adzuki beans, black beans, butter beans/baby lima beans, cannellini beans, fava beans/broad beans, Great Northern beans, kidney beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans
    • Lentils, e.g. red lentils, brown lentils, green lentils
    • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans, garbanzo bean flour
    • Dried peas,e.g. black-eyed peas, and split peas, e.g. green split peas, yellow split peas
    • Whole soy products, including edamame, soybeans, tempeh, tofu, silken tofu, miso, and natto (serving size not given). Plain unsweetened soy yogurt is included in the cookbook
    • When buying canned beans, seek out BPA-free cans – or better yet, cook with dried beans from the bulk section of your local market
    • Superfood legumes: adzuki beans, black beans, edamame
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Servings size: ¼ cup or one small handful or 10-12 nuts, once or twice a day
    • Raw – not fried, cooked in oils, or salted. Lightly toasted is okay
    • Nuts – e.g. almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts. Optionally soak in water overnight
    • Seeds – e.g. chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds/pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite source for high-quality nuts and seeds: Artisana, Barlean’s Organic Oils, Eden Foods, MaraNatha, Omega Nutrition, Once Again, Pacific Foods, Spectrum, WhiteWave
    • Nut butters – e.g. almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, peanut butter, pecan butter, sunflower seed butter, tahini (serving size not given)
    • Nut flours – e.g. almond meal, coconut flour. Mark Hyman’s favorite source for high-quality flour alternatives: Bob’s Red Mill
    • Superfood nuts and seeds: All, especially almonds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Herbs and spices
    • Herbs, fresh or dried – e.g. basil, bay leaf, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, sage, thyme
    • Spices – e.g. black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, chili powder, Chinese 5-spice powder, chipotle powder, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry powder, fennel seed, garam masala, garlic powder, ginger, mustard seed, nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, sea salt, sumac, za’atar spice mix
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite source for high-quality seasonings: Edward & Sons, Flavorganics, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Penzeys Spices, Rapunzel, Seeds of Change, The Spice Hunter
    • Superfood spices and foods: cacao (raw), chiles, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, green tea/matcha, miso, turmeric
  • Fats
    • Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil (light or dark), sunflower oil (not listed in the cookbook), walnut oil. Peanut oil is also included in recipes
    • Avocados and avocado oil
    • Olives
    • Coconut butter
    • Tahini
    • Butter is listed in the diet book but excluded in the cookbook, which has recipes with ghee/clarified butter
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite source for high-quality oils: Artisana, Barlean’s Organic Oils, Spectrum
    • Superfood fats: extra-virgin coconut butter, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Beverages
    • Drink 6-8 glasses of clean, fresh, pure water a day. The best option is to filter your own water
    • Matcha green tea
    • Small amounts (1/4 to ½ cup) of alcohol in cooking are fine
  • Condiments and pantry
    • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, capers, chili paste, red chili paste, coconut milk, dill pickle, hot sauces, mirin, mustard, olives, gluten-free low-sodium stock/broth, wheat-free tamari, tomato paste, sriracha, sun-dried tomatoes, tahini, tamari, tomato paste, tomato sauce, cooking wine, Vegenaise, vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, brown rice, rice wine), wasabi paste, Worcestershire sauce
    • Unsweetened applesauce, aloe vera juice, arrowroot, baking powder, cacao nibs, cacao powder, konjac powder, pomegranate molasses, vanilla extract
    • Unsweetened soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk
    • Protein shake powder – rice protein, pea protein, hemp protein, chia protein, or soy (from whole soy foods with isoflavones) protein powder; any good quality plant protein powder
    • Spirulina powder, green powder, maca powder, bee pollen
    • Some of the recipes include raw honey, although it’s listed as a food to avoid; pomegranate molasses and hoisin sauce are also in recipes
  • Fruits
    • Eat organic if you can, especially the EWG’s dirty dozen
    • Lemons, limes, goji berries, and pomegranate are included in the recipes, but there are no guidelines about how freely to eat them
    • Yellow carbs – eat in moderation (avoid on the advanced program, except ½ cup dark berries daily): dark berries (blackberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries); stone fruit (apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, etc.); apples and pears. Serving sizes: 1 medium piece, 1 cup berries, ½ cup mixed fresh fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit. Strawberries and grapefruit are also listed in the cookbook
    • Red carbs – eat limited amounts (avoid on the advanced program):  high-sugar fruits, including melons, grapes, pineapple – limit to a ½ cup treat once a week.
    • Avoid all fruit juice or fruit packed in juice
    • Other high-sugar fruits are listed in the recipes but it’s not clear whether they’re yellow carbs or red carbs: bananas
    • Superfood fruits: apples, berries (especially wild, organic blueberries, acai, and goji), kiwis, lemons, pomegranates
  • Grains and carbs
    • These are yellow carbs – eat in moderation (avoid on the advanced program). Serving size 1/3 cup cooked
    • Whole grains – brown rice, black rice, wild rice (avoid wheat for the first six weeks)
    • Pseudo-grains – amaranth, buckwheat/kasha, millet, quinoa, teff
    • Cracked grains – corn grits, polenta
    • Organic tortillas
    • Mark Hyman’s favorite sources for gluten-free grains: Arrowhead Mills, Hodgson Mill, Lundberg Family Farms, Shiloh Farms

You could have chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, no more than 2 ounces a day – but ideally you should save this for after the first 6 weeks

General – foods to avoid

  • Meal guidelines
    • Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Foods that trigger allergic reactions – avoid
    • Gluten – avoid it for the first six weeks of the program  (see Diet for Life below for reintroduction). Obvious foods containing wheat, barley, einkorn, kamut, oats, rye, spelt, tritacale; flour-based foods such as bagels, bread, cakes, cookies, crackers, muffins, and pizza; also hidden sources such as soba noodles, tamari, miso, seasonings, broth – look for gluten-free options
    • Dairy – avoid it for the first six weeks of the program (see Diet for Life below for reintroduction). Obvious foods containing milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, and other dairy foods; also hidden sources such as mayonnaise, chocolate, “natural” flavors, and anything that has casein
    • Any other foods that trigger allergic reactions for you
  • Don’t drink your calories
  • Avoid all flour products, even gluten-free
  • Highly processed and artificial foods – avoid
    • Industrial processed foods, fast food, and junk food
    • Limit foods that come in a box, a package, or a can unless they are unprocessed. Look for the ingredient list and the nutrition facts.
    • Foods with names you can’t recognize or pronounce
    • Foods with preservatives, additives, coloring, or dyes, “natural flavorings,” or flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate MSG
    • Foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners and low-calorie sweeteners including stevia, aspartame, NutraSweet, sucralose, sugar alcohols such as xylitol and maltitol, and all of the other heavily used and marketed sweeteners
    • Processed industrial soy products, such as those found in deli-meat replacements, soy cheese, or typical meal-replacement bars
    • Beware of foods with health claims on the label
  • Sugars and carbs – avoid
    • Dietary sugars, including sugar, agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, organic cane juice, sugar cane crystals, cane syrup, fermented sugars, dried fruit, fruit juices, honey,  liquid sweeteners, malted, maple syrup, molasses, “natural sugars,” refined sugars, sorghum, syrup – check ingredient labels for any foods containing sugars and avoid them. Note that the less processed sugars listed here are included in the dessert recipes in the cookbook, which are for occasional treats only
    • Refined grains – white rice, white flour, and even whole grain flour – including breads, pastas, and other highly processed carbs that act like sugar
    • All flour products (even gluten-free)
    • High fructose corn syrup HFCS
    • Sodas, including sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened
    • Fruit juice
    • Dried fruit – dried cranberries, currants, dates, raisins, etc. However, there are dried fruits in a number of recipes in the recipe book
  • Processed fats – avoid
    • Any food with the word “hydrogenated” on the label – trans fats
    • Highly refined cooking oils with large amounts of omega-6 fats (soybean and corn oil)
    • Toxic fats and fried foods
  • Unnatural natural foods – avoid
    • Animal products containing antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. Choose pasture-raised, grass-fed animals instead
    • Fish that are high mercury or contain other contaminants in large amounts – large predatory fish and river fish. Choose small, wild, or sustainably farmed fish instead
    • Plants treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Choose organic instead, especially for the EWG’s dirty dozen
    • Foods transported long distances and/or stored for a long time. Choose seasonal, local food instead.
  • Packaging and processing – avoid
    • Water from plastic water bottles (which contain phthalates)
    • Cans (containing bisphenol A BPA) are not proven to be safe
    • Don’t microwave your food. Warming may be okay, but not cooking
    • Charbroiling foods (grilled over charcoal) may be carcinogenic

6 weeks program – basic

The basic program can be followed by anyone. It claims to balance your blood sugar, reduce insulin spikes, balance hormones, cool off inflammation, improve digestion, boost your metabolism, enhance detoxification, and calm your mind and nervous system.

There are several quizzes in the book to check for medical conditions – if you qualify for self-care or medical care in more than one step, stay on the program for an additional 6 weeks and add the recommendations for each step you scored high on.

The Blood Sugar Solution 6 week basic program – what to eat

The Blood Sugar Solution 6 week basic program – foods to limit

  • Limit fruit of any kind to 2 pieces per day; limit melons, grapes, and pineapple to ½ cup once a week
  • Limit starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables (winter squashes, peas, potatoes, corn, root vegetables, beets) to up to ½ cup per day and ideally in the context of other foods that reduce the overall glycemic load of the meal

The Blood Sugar Solution 6 week basic program – foods to avoid

6 weeks program – advanced

The advanced program is designed for people with more severe cases of diabesity, including all those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, and it is designed to help with more serious biochemical and metabolic imbalances. It is a more restrictive diet for six weeks

There are several quizzes in the book to check for medical conditions (see “boosting your nutrition” below) – if you qualify for self-care or medical care in more than one step, stay on the program for an additional 6 weeks and add the recommendations for each step you scored high on.

The Blood Sugar Solution 6 week advanced program – what to eat

  • General foods to eat – See guidelines above, and note where it says foods should be excluded on the advanced program

The Blood Sugar Solution 6 week advanced program – foods to avoid

Boosting your nutrition

There are a number of quizzes in the book; you can also access them on the Blood Sugar Solution quiz page on the website (registration required). Depending on how you scored, focus on adding these foods (as well as the supplements in the book):

  • Magnesium deficiency
    • If you scored over 3 on the Magnesium Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Legumes/beans of all varieties
    • Nuts – especially almonds
  • Vitamin D deficiency
    • If you scored over 3 on the Vitamin D Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Mackerel, herring
    • Porcini or shiitake mushrooms
  • Omega-3 fat  deficiency
    • If you scored over 4 on the Essential Omega-3 Fats Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Sardines, herring, wild salmon, mackerel
    • Flaxseeds, walnuts
  • Thyroid
    • If you scored over 3 on the Thyroid Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Seaweed or sea vegetables for iodine
    • Fish, especially sardines and salmon, for iodine, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D;
    • Dandelion greens for vitamin A
    • Smelt, herring, scallops, and Brazil nuts for selenium
  • Sex hormones
    • If you scored over 9 if you are a woman or over 4 if you are a man on the Sex Hormones Imbalance Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Whole traditional soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, and edamame, which contain isoflavones
    • Ground flaxseeds, which contain lignans – 2 tablespoons a day
  • Inflammation
    • If you scored over 6 on the Inflammation Quiz, follow the elimination/reintroduction diet after the six weeks are over:
    • Follow Dr. Hyman’s UltraSimple Diet
  • Digestion
    • If you scored over 8 on the Digestion Quiz:
    • For 6 weeks, eliminate foods from your diet that ferment and produce gas in your gut (beans, grains, and all sugars, including all artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols) – this will starve out the bad bugs
    • Eat slowly, chew your food, and sit down when you eat
    • Take the recommended supplements, enzymes, probiotics, and nutrients
  • Toxicity
    • If you scored over 6 on the Toxicity Quiz, focus on eating more of these foods:
    • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, etc.), garlic, green tea, turmeric, whole eggs. Add them to your diet daily
    • Other great detox foods are cilantro, celery, parsley, dandelion greens, citrus peels, pomegranate, and rosemary

Reintroduction and diet for life

There are suggested recipes in the cookbook for reintroduction of dairy and gluten – see guidelines below.

  • Stick with the general food recommendations for life
    • Keep sugar, flour, and processed foods to a minimum
    • Include high-quality, whole-food carbs, protein, and fats at every meal
    • Compose your meals according to the 50-25-25 principle (50% vegetables, 25% lean high-quality protein, 25% whole grains)
    • Eat protein for breakfast and don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime
    • Limit your intake of addictive substances such as caffeine and alcohol
  • Dairy and gluten – two alternatives: you could stay off them, or you could add them back in
  • To reintegrate dairy and gluten:
    • Start with unprocessed dairy
    • Eat it at least 2-3 times for 3 days
    • Track your reactions for at least 72 hours (weight gain, cravings, fluid retention, nasal congestion, chest congestion, headaches, brain fog, difficulty remembering things, mood problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, sleep problems, joint aches, muscle aches, pain, fatigue, changes in your skin such as acne, changes in digestion or bowel function such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, reflux
    • If you have a reaction, stop dairy immediately
    • Wait 3 days
    • Now try unprocessed gluten. Follow the same process you did for dairy: Eat it 2-3 times for 3 days, track your reactions for at least 72 hours, and quit if you notice a reaction

Health benefits claimed in The Blood Sugar Solution

The book claims to help prevent or alleviate chronic diseases, including: acid reflux/GERD/heartburn, acne, ADD/ADHD, allergies, ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, autism, binge eating disorder, bipolar disease, breast cysts, bronchitis, bulimia, cancer, canker sores, celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, cold sores, colitis, constipation, dementia, depression, diabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, diarrhea, edema, environmental allergies, fatigue, fibromyalgia, food addiction, food allergies, chronic fungal infections, gingivitis, gluten sensitivity, gout, Gulf War syndrome, hair loss, headache, heart disease, high blood sugar, high blood pressure/hypertension, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, infertility, inflammatory bowel disease IBD, insomnia, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome IBS, kidney stones, leaky gut, liver failure/fatty liver, lupus metabolic syndrome, migraines, mood swings, muscle fatigue (chronic), muscle pain, night sweats, obesity/overweight, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS, premenstrual syndrome, prostate cancer, psoriasis, restless leg syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, schizophrenia, seasonal allergies, sensitivity to cold, sinusitis, sleep apnea, stroke, syndrome X, thrush, uterine fibroids, yeast infections

Get a copy of The Blood Sugar Solution for more information on the reasons behind the recommendations, hormone regulation, quizzes, supplementation, menus, recipes, resources and more.
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Also, get The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook for recipes.
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Also see www.bloodsugarsolution.com for an online community, online course, videos, quizzes, success stories, recipes, and more

How has this diet worked for you?

{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Terry September 30, 2014, 10:38 am

    I would like to thank Penny Hammond for reducing this diet to 14 pages (at least that’s what it printed out to be for me). Fourteen pages that I could understand!

    I checked out The Blood Sugar Solution at the library, but found it to be a hard book to read. Now admittedly, this may have been because I’m a youthful 61 years old, have been on a dozen diets in my years (all with their own books), and I’m getting tired of having to read YET ANOTHER diet book! (And this one was almost 400 pages!) I felt at this point a diet book had better be brief and to the point. It was not!

    So why even bother with yet another diet? Well, I probably wouldn’t have….but my doctor recommended this type of diet for my rising triglycerides and cholesterol levels on my blood test. So I needed a book where I could begin eating this way….right away!

    But lo and behold, the author put everything, including the kitchen sink, in the book! Too much! Somehow the basic diet seems to get lost in the pages…and this becomes very frustrating if your doctor has recommended you begin eating this way immediately, and you can’t begin immediately because the book is so large–and the diet plan becomes lost in it’s pages! This book could have easily been reduced to a 100 pages, if you removed all the “chit chat” from it.

    I finally gave up. But then I found this webpage and I printed it out and found a “to the point” eating plan I can use. I did have to return to the book to take a couple of test that show you which eating program you’re supposed to be on–then came here to find what I eat on that program. So I thank Penny Hammond for making something that was hard, easy for me!

    I don’t know why people insist on writing such HUGE books for diets. Many people say that the authors take a few facts and rehash them over and over in most diet books. All to reach that magical number of 300 to 400 pages these days! That’s why I loved the 70’s! Most paperbacks of that time seemed to be 90 t0 150 pages. That was it! And that was about right. In this modern time, with life so busy and all of us with less time to read, why are people writing diet books that are so huge?

    • Penny Hammond October 1, 2014, 12:49 pm

      Thanks Terry, I’m glad you find this useful!

  • dean January 28, 2015, 2:15 am


    I have irritated stomach lining, but not an ulcer. Pit of stomach below belly button. Fruit causes pain. When pain starts to break gas is released. What to eat to reduce inflammation?


    • Penny Hammond February 2, 2015, 8:36 pm

      You could try an elimination/reintroduction diet to find out which foods affect you personally, apart from fruit. If you avoid all the foods that irritate you, that may help. An example of this type of diet is The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin; another is The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas (that diet assumes you want to lose weight – instead you could watch to see whether symptoms appear).
      Hope that helps.

  • Sharon March 11, 2015, 2:20 am

    Thank you for this!
    What I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is goat products, which I have been using instead of cow dairy for years. For me, it seems preferable but does it fit into this plan?

    • Penny Hammond March 15, 2015, 5:14 pm

      The author doesn’t make any specific mention of goat milk products. Goat milk is often easier to tolerate than cow’s milk, but I’d assume you should still test it – avoid it (as well as all other dairy) in the first 6 weeks of the program, and if you want to test both cow and goat dairy then reintroduce them separately to find out your reaction to them.

  • pooran April 2, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Iam on jenny craig 5 days program diet.On the weekend iam on my own I like Dr mark hyman’s
    Fat Melting Soup . Could you please tell me if ican incorporate the soup with control food on weekend .
    Thank you

    • Penny Hammond April 3, 2015, 12:52 pm

      Mixing different diets gets confusing! The Fat Melting Soup isn’t included in any of Dr. Hyman’s books that I can find. From an internet research it looks like a vegetable soup – that would work well with most types of diets.

  • Natalie Phillips October 1, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I bought the blood sugar solution book but the kind of foods I don’t find in my country. I live in South America or in the Caribbean, Please advise. I am on the basic plan.

    • Penny Hammond October 5, 2015, 12:59 pm

      Look for unrefined foods – natural vegetables, meats/fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc.
      Have natural fruits and whole grains in moderation.
      Avoid the foods in the “avoid” list – wheat/gluten foods and milk products (for the first 6 weeks), processed and artificial foods, foods containing sugar, processed fats.

  • Marie October 28, 2015, 6:26 pm

    I would like the 14 pages that Terry talks about, I have a weight loss coach and she suggested we read the book together, I ordered it but it’s not come yet and when I read through this page I saw a lot of the same things she has been saying from the beginning. Some of it looks doable but if there is an easier solution I’d like it. Thank you. Marie

    • Penny Hammond October 31, 2015, 12:19 pm

      I think the 14 pages Terry is referring to is this webpage – when she printed it out it came to 14 pages.

  • Carol February 19, 2016, 4:08 am

    I have a “compromised” immune system and a wide variety of health issues. I know that sugar is the villain in causing my high cholesterol and when I tried Atkins yes ago every ounce of fat melted away and my cholesterol dropped like a rock! I’m going to bite the bullet and take on this diet. I also browsed the book in library and thank you Penny for these concise 14 pages.

    • Penny Hammond February 21, 2016, 9:29 am

      You’re welcome, and I hope you feel better!

  • Rukia Rashid April 30, 2016, 1:53 am

    I need your help in understanding why I am gaining weight on the super advanced plan of the 10 days detox plan. I lost almost 2kgs during the 10 days and I am currently following the same rules and eating as recommended following the plan religiously. Could you please help me out. Maybe give me reasons to why am gaining weight and how to go about it. Thank you.

    • Penny Hammond May 4, 2016, 12:04 pm

      Would you mind posting this question to the page for the 10 Day Detox Plan? This page is for a different diet.

  • Jimbo July 20, 2016, 12:32 pm

    Awesome post and eating guide, but imo compeletely avoiding ALL sugar is totally unrealistic.

  • siva nathan August 9, 2016, 11:07 pm

    Dear Penny
    I am 50 years old with almost 4 years diabetic Type 2 with twice daily insulin injection apart from all other oral meds. I am 145kg or 319lbs. Insulin resistance as what my doctors says and need to do something such as loosing weight and bringing down my HbAic to below 6 (Currently at about 9.3). Where can I get this book and the cook book. I am in Brunei. Please advice. Thanks Regards Siva

    • Penny Hammond August 21, 2016, 5:53 pm

      Dear Siva,
      I looked at Amazon to see if they ship the books internationally, but it looks like they don’t.
      Perhaps you could try contacting the publisher, Little, Brown and Company.
      Sorry I can’t help you more, I hope that’s at least somewhat helpful.
      Good luck,

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