If you have diabetes, a dietitian or nutritionist can advise you about what to eat, what not to eat, and how to keep that all-important blood glucose level in check.
At the Diabetes Association of Jamaica we have both dietitian and nutritionist on baord to help guide you.
Following a healthy diet is a fundamental aspect of diabetes management. Food can help you control your blood sugar levels, but it also can cause them to surge out of control. People with every type of diabetes — type 1, type 2, or gestational — need to eat right as part of diabetes treatment.
That’s why a registered dietitian can be one of the most important members of your diabetes management team. These professionals can teach you how to follow a proper diet, avoid some of the pitfalls of poor nutrition, and lose weight to better manage your diabetes.
Diabetes Management: Diet and Diabetes Types
The three types of diabetes are very different, but diet plays a large role in each of them:
- Type 1 diabetes: Though you cannot produce insulin and must take medication, a healthy diet can limit the amount of medication you need and reduce the risk for episodes of excessively high or low blood sugar.
- Type 2 diabetes: You may be able to manage the disease through diet and exercise without using drugs. Choosing the right food and following a meal plan is essential.
- Gestational diabetes: With the type of diabetes contracted during pregnancy, you’ll need to closely watch what you eat to protect both your health and the health of your unborn child.
Diabetes Management: How Dietitians Help
A registered dietitian can help you control your disease in various ways, including:
- Creating a meal plan just for you. A dietitian will ask you about your lifestyle, including what you like to eat and how active you are. Then she can build a diet that will meet your nutritional needs while keeping your blood sugar in check. She also can tweak your existing meal plan to keep up with lifestyle changes — for example, if you begin exercising more often.
- Helping you lose weight. Your dietitian can show you how to compare the amount of energy you burn in a day to what you take in through food. Most people who lose weight find their diabetes much easier to treat and control.
- Tracking your blood sugar. The foods that dietitians choose for you will be geared toward avoiding big swings in your blood sugar levels. They also can suggest foods you might eat if you find yourself dealing with low or high blood sugar.
- Counting your carbohydrates. Your dietitian will teach you the importance of counting the carbohydrates you eat, as well as the difference between good and bad carbohydrate sources. She will tell you how many carbs you should have at each meal or snack to keep your blood sugar in line and how to track the number of carbs in each gram of food.
- Reading food labels. As part of counting carbs, your dietitian will show you how to read package labels and ingredient lists so you’ll be able to choose the foods that are healthiest for you.
- Teaching you how to monitor your progress. Your dietitian will explain how to keep a food diary and use that diary to learn how what you eat affects how you feel.
Everyone with diabetes, particularly those recently diagnosed, should consult with a dietitian or nutritionist to figure out the healthiest way to live with this disease.