As a registered dietitian, I am often asked about the best diet to follow for diabetes. As a health literacy expert, I know that socioeconomic factors, reduced access to healthcare, language, cultural factors and lack of cultural competence by healthcare providers can impede people actually following through with recommendations. When you have diabetes, keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) in a healthy range can help you feel your best each day. Learning to consider your carbohydrate intake to manage your blood sugar depends on your ability to meal plan using food labels and a flexible meal plan of carbohydrate choices while including protein and fat for good nutritional balance. The American Diabetes Association Create Your Plate meal planner for diabetes can be a great tool for managing your carbohydrate choices.
In a study done in 2012, Delahanty et al. compared the estimated intake of nutrients and foods in The Treatment Options for type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) trial to assess dietary intake among a large, ethnically and regionally diverse group of young people with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes after participation in a standard diabetes education program. Overall, the study showed that young people with Type 2 diabetes are not meeting the recommended food and nutrient intake guidelines placing them at risk for degenerative diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The study additionally concluded that changing these nutrition and lifestyle habits might be impeded by physiological, cultural and social factors that families may need assistance to overcome. Staying healthy sometimes means digging deeper into the barriers preventing people from exercising and eating healthy. In my experience, the assistance families and individuals need may be as simple as learning what to purchase at the grocery store with an explanation of why and how food selections make a difference.
However, we as providers may be too busy working with individual clients and depending on our workplace setting may not be able to take people to the grocery store to help them learn. Luckily, starting in March pharmacists have teamed up with a local registered dietitian nutritionists to enhance your diabetes care plan with education and tools about the foods you eat every day including reading food labels. This comes in the form of Eating Healthy with Diabetes™ grocery store tours offered at a variety of local grocery stores including: Acme, Albertsons, Carrs, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Shaws, Star Market, Tom Thumb and Vons. For a list of available tours in your area, and to register, go to diabetesdigest.com/EHWD or call 1-877-728-6655.
This holiday season I was able to spend time with my parents who are now 70’ish. Did we sit and read or watch TV? No, I went to Tai Chi with mom and motorcycle riding with dad.
My mom was the reason I became a dietitian. She emphasized nutrition my entire childhood. She cooks from scratch using real food and incorporating plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts. She even has her own blog, The Gluten Free Edge. My dad is not much of a plant food eater but she finds creative ways to prepare the ones he does like or encourage him to like others. Despite their age, they are living life healthy and well.
The recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines provide healthy eating patterns like my mom uses to help prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture undergo a lengthy process every five years to ensure that the Dietary Guidelines reflect the most recent science. Obesity and other chronic diseases come with increased health risks and costs. Healthy eating helps you take control of your health and enables you to live a healthy, high quality of life.
The key is choosing a healthy eating pattern that is right for you. That means an eating pattern that can be maintained for your lifetime and, at appropriate calorie levels to promote health and support a healthy body weight. A Registered Dietitian can help you choose a healthy eating pattern or you can use the many tools available to incorporate the new Dietary Guidelines using many of the foods that you enjoy.
The areas to consider include:
Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level and accounts for your taste preferences, culture, traditions, and budget.
A healthy eating pattern includes real food and more plants:
A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
Fruits, especially whole fruits
Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
Oils from plants
A healthy eating pattern limits processed foods and junk:
Saturated fats; Saturated – less than 10% of total calories per day.
Alcohol; If you drink alcohol, it should be in moderation.
There is a healthy eating pattern for every one and everyone’s lifestyle. Registered Dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition that can help you plan an eating pattern that is right for you. Additionally, you can find various examples of healthy eating patterns and the Top 10 Things You Need to Know on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines webpage orChooseMyPlate.gov.