Many people go into denial when they get the news. Not Barry, who immediately took control of his condition with a low-carb diet, stepped up exercise, and the medication that his doctor prescribed.
So that's not his problem. His problem may be that he is a committed vegetarian.
"But I don't think of it as a "problem," Barry says. "It's more of a discovery -- searching to find out where the carbs are in veggies."
When Barry told me that he was a vegetarian, I replied that low-carb vegetarian was not easy, but possible. I added that I knew of three reasons why people make that choice.
1. Some people think a vegetarian diet is healthier. We have some evidence for this from studies of groups like Seventh-day Adventists.
2. Others won't eat animals that they wouldn't kill themselves -- and they won't intentionally kill any of them. This is the ethical position championed by Professor Peter Singer.
3. Those of us concerned about the environment recognize the huge inefficiencies of processing our protein through the stomachs of livestock. Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world, according to a comprehensive report, Livestock's Long Shadow -- Environmental Issues and Options, that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published two years ago. Livestock is also a major source the the degradation of our land and water.
It is this environmental concern that attracts both myself and my favorite Certified Diabetes Educator to a vegetarian diet. But we haven't gone there -- not yet anyway.
Barry replied that he is a vegetarian for all of those reasons and for a fourth one:
4. For the past 37 years he has been a vegetarian. "I learned by studying yoga and related Hindu Ayurvedic teachings back in the early 1970's in U.S. and India," he told me. "I experimented with what's recommended as a yogic or sattvic diet, thought to improve mental clarity and promote benefits for meditative practices."
Being a vegetarian limits what Barry can eat. Some of the low-carb mainstays -- meat, poultry, and fish -- are off the table. If he were a vegan -- a vegetarian who won't eat any animal products like eggs or dairy -- the restrictions would be even greater.
Eating low-carb limits Barry's food choices in a different way. Grains, beans, most root vegetables, and rice have to be off his low-carb table.
What's left? Plenty. A low-carb vegetarian has a surprisingly wide variety of great food choices.
But strangely, neither Barry or I have been able to find any books to guide people with diabetes to low-carb vegetarian living. If any readers know of good resources, please let us know with your comments below.
So let's start to work on one here. Of the three main macro-nutrients -- carbohydrates, protein, and fat -- neither vegetarianism or low-carb living has any problem with fat. And fat generally provided the majority of the calories on any low-carb diet.