Consistent Carbohydrate Diet (CCHO) for Diabetes

Your body needs carbohydrates for energy, but if you have type 2 diabetes, too many could cause problems. A meal plan called the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCHO) can help.

What Is It?

You might hear your doctor or nutritionist call the CCHO by other names, such as the "constant carbohydrate" or "controlled carbohydrate" diet.

The focus of the diet is eating the same amount of carbohydrates every day. This helps keep your blood sugar, or glucose, levels stable.

Types of Carbohydrates

There are three main kinds of carbohydrates:

Sugar. This is a "simple" carbohydrate, which means your digestive system breaks it down quickly. Some sugars occur naturally, like the kind that's in fruit (fructose). Others are processed, like white table sugar.

Starch. This is a "complex" carbohydrate -- the kind that digest slowly. Examples include lima beans, potatoes, and whole grains.

Fiber. It's also a complex carbohydrate. You find it in things like apples, celery, and chickpeas.

On a CCHO diet, you might be allowed to eat and drink 185 carbohydrates each day. It could be a little more or less depending on what your doctor recommends. For example, you might divide your carbs this way in three meals:

  • Breakfast: 65 carbohydrates
  • Lunch: 60 carbohydrates
  • Dinner: 60 carbohydrates

Benefits of CCHO

Studies show limiting carbohydrates is the best way to manage your blood sugar levels. As a result, you may not need as much insulin. You might even be able to stop taking it altogether. The CCHO diet also has no side effects, unlike some medications for type 2 diabetes.

Sample Menus

Try these recipes that can be part of a tasty CCHO meal plan:

Breakfast

A hearty bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and almonds is a great way to start your day:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking, gluten-free)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup raspberry fruit spread
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 1 ounce slivered almonds, toasted

Total carbs: 33

Combine water, oats, and salt in a medium-size pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes. Place the fruit spread in a small microwave-safe bowl and cook on high setting for 15 seconds or until slightly melted. Remove from heat and stir in the extract. Spoon equal amounts of the oatmeal in four bowls. Top with 1 tablespoon fruit spread, 1/2 cup berries, and 1 tablespoon toasted almonds.

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Lunch

This is a healthy combo you can put in your lunchbox:

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce reduced-fat Colby jack cheese
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 1 1/2 ounces low-sodium deli ham
  • 1 large Bibb lettuce leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 hard-boiled egg whites
  • 12 roasted almonds, unsalted
  • 1 green apple
  • 3 baby carrots

Put the ham, cheese, and avocado on the lettuce leaf, then roll it tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Serve it with the egg whites, almonds, green apple, and baby carrots.

Total carbs: 35

Dinner

This chicken and mushroom dish makes 4 servings:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon margarine (trans fat-free)
  • 10 ounces white (button) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

Place the chicken breast in a plastic bag and pound thin with a mallet. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Dredge the chicken in flour and coat it on both sides. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Melt the margarine in the pan. Add the mushrooms and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan and bring it to a boil to reduce the liquid. Add the chicken broth to the pan and simmer 2 minutes. Add the chicken breast back to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Total carbs per serving: 12

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 12, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Managing diabetes, looking beyond carbs," "Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet."

Medical University of South Carolina Health: "Consistent Carbohydrate/ Heart Healthy Menu."

American Diabetes Association: "Get to Know Carbs," "OK Oatmeal with Strawberries and Almonds," "Low Carb Lunchbox," "Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms."

Vanderbilt University Medical Center: "Consistent Carbohydrate Diet for Diabetes Mellitus."

Nutrition: "Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base."

American Heart Association: "Carbohydrates."

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