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.