If you have diabetes -- either type 1 or type 2 diabetes -- you know that what you eat, how much and when are essentials in your diabetes treatment plan. With the release of its updated nutrition guidelines in October, 2013, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) not only restated the importance of nutrition in diabetes care, but also recognized that individuals living with diabetes have their own unique differences. Notes the ADA position statement, published in Diabetes Care, no single eating pattern is best for everyone with diabetes.
So what does that mean? When considering food options, an eating plan for diabetes needs to factor in more than eating the right variety of nutrient-dense foods in appropriate portion sizes. Your individual food preferences, culture, religious beliefs, food budget, traditions and metabolic goals are vital to sticking with your plan. Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean giving up cultural traditions or favorite foods, but instead it means personalizing your eating plan -- with your registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator -- so these foods may fit in. That includes recognizing an eating pattern -- perhaps a Mediterranean, vegetarian or vegan, or DASH approach – that you prefer. After all, people eat food, not just single nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat)!
As before, the updated guidelines recognize that your individual metabolic goals (blood glucose, lipid, and blood pressure levels) are essential to choosing the right eating plan for you.
More from the New Nutrition Guidelines …
- Make carbs count. The new guidelines don’t pinpoint ideal carbohydrate, fat, or protein targets for those with diabetes. Instead, you need to work with your qualified health care provider to set your individual carbohydrate goal. That said, the guidelines do advise nutrient-dense options: vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes and dairy foods, over processed foods with added fats, sugars or sodium. Leaner protein options and unsaturated fats in place of those high in saturated or trans fats are advised. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Find quick, easy and nourishing “no-recipe” recipes to fit nutrient-dense ingredients into your everyday main dishes, salads and savory sides; adjust ingredient amounts to your diabetes management plan.
- Give fiber a boost. The guidelines advise consuming at least the amount of fiber recommended for those without diabetes: 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams daily for men to age fifty, with somewhat less for older adults. Fiber significantly improves glycemic control. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Prepare meals and snacks with fiber-rich grain products, vegetables, and legumes. Dreamfields pasta has 5 grams of fiber per serving (2 ounces dry or about 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked).
- Limit sodium. Whether you have diabetes or not, the sodium guidelines are the same: reduce your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams daily. If you have high blood pressure – commonly linked to diabetes -- cut back even more. Talk to your health care provider about the right sodium target for you. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Learn to use food labels to choose foods with less sodium. Follow the DASH diet. Instead of salt, season with herbs and spices.
- Fit fish in! Enjoy oily fish -- salmon, mackerel, trout, or anchovy or tuna canned in oil -- at least twice (2 servings) a week; that advice applies to those who don’t have diabetes, too. Taking omega-3 (EPA/DHA) supplements to prevent or treat heart disease won’t benefit those with diabetes. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Try Salmon Pasta Salad with Mint and Lemon Vinaigrette or Spicy Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Spaghetti.
- Skip or limit sugary drinks. That includes all caloric sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. Cutting back -- or cutting out -- reduces your chance of weight gain and helps to keep the risks linked to cardiovascular disease at bay. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Enjoy water with a slice of lemon or orange with your meal, or make mealtime a chance to fit calcium-rich milk into your day.
- Be supplement savvy. No vitamin or mineral deficiency? Then there’s no clear evidence that taking a vitamin or mineral supplement offers any special benefits if you have diabetes. No evidence supports the use of herbal supplements or cinnamon to manage diabetes either. Tip from the Dreamfields team: Keep smart eating and the right level of physical activity among your top strategies for diabetes management!
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, ask for a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator as soon as possible. To learn more about the new nutrition guidelines for managing diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org. For the complete updated guidelines, refer to Diabetes Care online at http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/10/07/dc13-2042.full.pdf
Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more on healthy ways to prevent or manage diabetes!