Those of us who grew up Adventist think of “temperance” as abstinence (from the word “abstemiousness”) from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. We were also taught to think of it as abstinence from coffee and tea, chocolate, carbonated beverages, baking powder/baking soda, mustard, vinegar, and spices. Many Adventists still adhere to these 19th-century prohibitions, but not everyone does. (You can get more information on specific foods in the “Food Categories” article.)

Temperance affects all areas of one’s lifestyle—getting the right amount of sleep, water, exercise, fresh air, and sunshine—besides the right nutrition in the right amounts. For you. And it also includes stress relief, which is what God designed the Sabbath day for (more about that in the article on “Trust”).


One of my pet peeves is the cliché, “Everything in moderation.” For any diabetic serious about practicing Temperance, it’s not enough to say, “eat in moderation” or “just a little bit” or “only a taste.” Establish a strong habit of awareness of exactly how much of any specific food you eat and the amounts of calories and macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates, including fiber) in that portion. “For many people who despair of ever dropping a few pounds or keeping their blood sugars in their target range, the culprit is the volume of food that they’re eating. Portions are out of whack, so to speak.”1

Portion Control

I would like to suggest that real temperance for a diabetic is “portion control.” You need to be aware of how much makes up a “portion” or “serving” of every food you eat. “Portion control is all about understanding how much a serving size of food truly is.”2 If you don’t know, consult a reliable food database, such as CalorieKing or MyFitnessPal.

For accountability and motivation, keep a detailed food journal. “If you or your loved one have been recently diagnosed—or have recently come to a shocking realization that you are going to die early if you don’t make some drastic changes—let me suggest that perhaps the very first step to take is Portion Control. And the first step in practicing Portion Control is to keep a detailed, strict food journal.”3 You won’t have to do this forever, but you should be diligent in keeping a food journal for several weeks (or months) or any time when you feel you are “slipping” away from your chosen diabetes dietary protocol.

Food Journal

In order to keep an accurate food journal, you need to base your records on a reliable food database. You can make your journal as simple or as complex as you like. You can do this with a pen and notebook or use electronic documents such as Word or Excel. You can also choose from the many computer or phone apps to track this information. My favorite is MyFitnessPal (for computer or phone). I like it because it has a built-in recipe analyzer!

Eat to Your Meter

The phrase, “eat to your meter,” means using your glucose meter to help you determine what foods/beverages you can consume that will not harm your diabetic body.

  1. Test pre-meal, just before your first bite, to get a baseline.
  2. Test 1 to 1½ hours after the first bite of your meal, as this is typically when your blood glucose peaks. It should not rise more than 20-30 mg/dL (1.1-1.7 mmol/l) above your baseline.
  3. Test 2 to 3 hours after the first bite of your meal, when blood sugar should normalize to (or close to) the pre-meal number.
  4. If your blood glucose is still increasing, keep testing every hour until it comes down.
  5. For validation, repeat this several times on different days, but keep the amount of food consistent.

Yes, I know this “eat to your meter” process occurs in several places throughout this website. That’s how important it is!

Create a Shopping List, Menus, and Meal Plans

After you have tested, a.k.a. have “eaten to your meter” and have determined what foods are acceptable for you and do not spike your blood sugar, you will have your weekly/monthly shopping list! And from that list you can create recipes and meal plans that you have customized for you (and possibly your family).

Abstain from Whatever Harms Your Body

“Temperance” for a diabetic is abstaining from any foods, beverages, or practices that will harm your body and make your diabetes worse. This could include alcoholic beverages and definitely includes tobacco. It includes misuse of drugs, both prescription and OTC. It could include not getting enough exercise, sunlight, and fresh air. Or enough sleep or enough water.

For diabetics, the most important thing to abstain from is sugar. Sugar in all its forms! And abstain from anything and everything that raises your blood sugar into harmful levels. This includes high stress, the number one non-food cause of high blood sugars.

This is true abstemiousness!

Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics™ Recommends:

  1. Learn how to identify portions/servings of specific foods, then practice portion control with everything you eat and drink.
  2. Keep a detailed food journal for accountability and for learning how foods affect your diabetes.
  3. Choose (or create) a specific Food List and customize it to suit your diabetes dietary needs.
  4. Use the “Eat to Your Meter” procedure to identify and verify “safe” foods for you.
  5. Create (or update) your recipe collection to include and identify diabetic-friendly recipes, using only the “safe” foods from your customized food list.
  6. Create menus and meal plans using the “safe” foods and diabetic-friendly recipes that you have identified.
  7. Abstain from all foods, drinks, and lifestyle practices that harm your body.

1Campbell, Amy, MS, RD, LDN, CDE. “Portion Control Pointers,” Diabetes Self-management (May 31, 2016). (accessed on 7/26/2020).

2Olson, Katie. “Portion Control and Why It Matters,” Pop Culture (January 17, 2017). (accessed on 7/26/2020).

3Lemi-Hegarty, Jacqueline. “Start with Portion Control,” Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics Blog (July 24, 2017). (accessed on 7/26/2020).

More References on Portion Control

What is a serving size and portion size?

Portion Control Pointers

Start With Portion Control

NEWSTART Now | Episode 5

Balancing Act: Temperance

Balancing Act: Temperance | NEWSTART Now | Episode 5
35-minute video
The recipe for oat burgers is too high in carbohydrates for diabetics. We recommend a low-carb burger recipe. I will put some recipes below.

This recipe is vegan.

This is vegetarian, not vegan (uses cheese)

This is vegan.

One thought on “Temperance

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