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What Should I Eat for Diabetes?

November 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Shape up your plate with color. Aim for at least two different colored vegetables to make up half of your plate.

November is National Diabetes Month. Twenty-nine million Americans have diabetes and one in four of those people don’t know they have it. Another 86 million adults have prediabetes, more than one in three Americans and nine out of ten of those people are not aware they have it. Of those with prediabetes, 30-50% will go on to develop diabetes within five years. These numbers are staggering and continue to climb. The big question on many patients’ minds is “what should I eat?”

In 2013 the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) updated their nutrition recommendations, which has changed the way dietitians counsel clients with diabetes. The main message of the new guidelines is there is no one size meal plan for all people with diabetes. Here are the latest recommendations.

Individualize, Individualize, Individualize.
An eating pattern should be based on an individual’s health goals and personal and cultural preferences. There is no one dietary plan that is best- be it Mediterranean, low-carb, or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

Early Referral to a Registered Dietitian
Once a patient is diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes they should be referred to a dietitian. Their dietitian will assess what they need to eat based on nutrient imbalances or deficiencies. Since no one diet is appropriate for everyone, each patient can learn how to eat to manage their blood sugars based on their personal preferences and health goals. Research suggests seeing a dietitian produces reductions and better control of blood sugars similar to or better than what is expected with medication for diabetes. In other words, see a dietitian!

Optimal Nutrient Mix
There is no optimal mix of nutrients, so the amount of calories a person with diabetes should ideally get from carbohydrates, protein and fat can vary based on their current eating patterns, preferences, and weight-related goals.

Fiber
People with diabetes benefit from getting at least the amount of fiber and whole grains recommended for the general population, which is between 21-38 grams/day. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Energy and Calorie Needs
People who are overweight will benefit from reducing calories and portions to promote weight loss. The method of weight loss may vary per person; however it is important to consider following a long-term healthy approach that can be sustained to keep the weight off for the long haul.

Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
This is the first time ever that ADA formally recommended that people with diabetes should not drink any sugar-sweetened beverages. This not only includes drinks that contain sucrose, but also honey, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar.

Sodium Limits
People with diabetes should limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day. People who have high blood pressure may need to limit their sodium intake further. Keep in mind, most of the sodium we get in our diet comes from the food itself, without adding any salt at the table.

Vitamins and Herbal Supplements
ADA’s position on vitamin supplementation remains essentially the same. There is no clear evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation benefit individuals with diabetes who do not have underlying deficiencies. There continues to be conflicting research on the benefits of vitamin supplementation. Check with your physician to find out which vitamins are right for you.

Bottom Line

  • See a dietitian to obtain an individualized meal plan.
  • Eat the right amount of calories from a variety of nutrients.
  • Lose weight, if overweight.
  • Avoid all sugary beverages.
  • Reduce sodium, if needed.
  • Consume fiber from a variety of unprocessed “whole” foods.
  • Take supplementation based on individual needs.

One last note
Please get screened for diabetes or prediabetes. It is best to find out sooner than later so you can act now to live a long healthy and fulfilling life. Please share your comments.

To meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Cooper Clinic, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

5 Steps to Take Control of Your Diabetes

November 22, 2013 1 comment

November is American Diabetes Month aiming to raise awareness in the movement to Stop Diabetes®. Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. If you are battling the disease, learn five tips from Michael Clark, MD, a preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic, to help you take control of your health.

  1. Know your Diabetes: Knowledge is one of the best ways to combat diabetes. Diabetes is able to affect your entire body. Talk in depth and frequently with a diabetes educator and/or your physician to assure you are always up-to-date with the latest information. Aside from talking to your physician, make an effort to read the literature on diabetes. Thankfully, there are some great books available as well as online websites such as diabetes.org which give you important information in a structured, easy-to-understand way. Ultimately, every patient with diabetes should know their bodies and their condition better than anyone else, including their physician.
  2. Know Your Blood Sugar: How does diabetes affect you? Testing your blood sugar will not only let you see how you’re doing on a regular basis, but it should also help you understand your diabetes and inform your decision making. This could include choosing a suitable diet, knowing how activity affects you and how stressful days and illness should be managed. Furthermore, the more detail you record, the better prepared you will be when you meet with your physician.
  3. Pick the Right Diet: A healthy diet will help in a myriad of ways. The right diet will improve blood sugar levels, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce tiredness, improve digestion and can significantly improve clarity of thought.
  4. Get in Activity: Minimal activity each day can help improve our health and help us feel more energetic through the day. Even a 20 minute walk or 15 minutes of push-ups and/or aerobics in your own living room will get the heart pumping. The effect of regular activity is also known to help increase insulin sensitivity, which can be useful for all types of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
  5. Manage Sleep and Stress: Is your head hitting the pillow for at least eight hours per night? Getting at least eight hours of restful sleep will not only help manage your weight, but it will help keep your blood sugar levels in check.

With these helpful, managing tips, you will be able to tackle your diabetes head on.

For more information about Cooper Clinic or to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive physical exam, call 972.560.2667.