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Diabetic Dietary Do’s

Proper Diabetes Management involves an entire team working together to develop a unique plan. The team usually includes a medical provider (MD, NP, PA), a CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist), a Registered Dietitian and, of course, you the patient. 

Reviewing your blood work, picking medications and determining a best course of action are tasks for you and the medical provider. You will likely see a CDCES to ensure proper understanding of the day-to-day management of diabetes, such as taking blood sugar, adjusting medications and much more. 

Your Registered Dietitian will help you with understanding how different foods affect your blood sugar, how much of specific foods you should eat and how to create a dietary plan based on your eating habits and food goals. 

You, the patient, are your biggest advocate. Understanding the ins and outs of diabetes management can be overwhelming so be sure to be part of the team. 

While Diabetes management is unique to every individual, here are some major dietary concepts to get you started.

Carbohydrates are not Bad:

In fact, they are necessary. Our brains loves carbohydrates and it is our primary source of fuel. The common misconception is we must get rid of all carbohydrates. The reality is we need to pick the right ones in the appropriate portions. A no carbohydrate diet, especially for a diabetic, can actually be dangerous. 

Carbohydrate Portions:

A serving of carbohydrates is not the same thing as the portion you will eat. We use servings as a standardized measure to help control your blood sugar. Each serving is 15g of carbohydrates. A portion is determined uniquely for you and could be 2, 3, 4, 5 servings. Meaning your portion may have 30-75g of carbohydrates per meal or more. 

Carbohydrate Consistency:

We need balance. As a person with diabetes, we want to control the ebbs and flows of our blood sugar. Avoiding high highs and low lows are very important. We do this by eating carbohydrates consistently throughout the day. If your team decides that 4 servings per meal is the appropriate portion for you, then breakfast, lunch and dinner should all contain close to that portion. Remember, don’t skip meals!

Complex Carbohydrates:

Not all carbs are created equal. Some carbs are very processed, like white rice. When we eat it, our body does not have to do much to turn it into simple sugar, causing a quick spike in our blood sugar. No good! Instead, let’s focus on nutrient dense carbs that have fiber, protein and fat. For example - quinoa, oatmeal or whole wheat bread. These less processed foods have other nutrients, making it harder for the body to digest. In turn this slows down the blood sugar spike allowing for better control. In conclusion, eat your beans! 

Carbohydrate Pairing: 

Taking what we learned about complex carbs, we can extrapolate this to a meal. For example, toast in the morning is just carbohydrates. But avocado toast with an egg and tomato, now that adds fat, protein and fiber! Breaking down and digesting the toast alone will happen faster than when the toast is paired with these other non-carbohydrate foods. This slows down that spike in blood sugar allowing for better blood sugar control. 

Take home message: 

This stuff isn’t easy. It takes a team, time and practice. You are unique and so is your plan for diabetes management. While taking these dietary steps can improve your health, it is important to talk with a team of professionals to make sure your plan is specially designed with you in mind.

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