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April 25, 2024

Diabetes: Management through dietary choices

IU Health West Hospital

Diabetes: Management through dietary choices

Written by Joni Fiscus, clinical dietician and certified diabetes educator at IU Health West

Living with diabetes requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to dietary choices, and a clinical dietician plays a pivotal role in guiding individuals towards optimal health and wellness. Understanding the dietary needs of someone with diabetes is crucial for managing blood sugar levels, preventing complications and enhancing overall well-being.

It’s all about balance.

One of the key principles in managing diabetes through diet is maintaining a balance between carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates directly impact blood sugar levels, and a dietician helps individuals with diabetes choose complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. This includes whole grains, vegetables and legumes, which provide sustained energy without causing rapid spikes in blood sugar. Portion control is emphasized, ensuring that meals are well-balanced and tailored to individual needs.

Proteins help the muscles.

Proteins play a crucial role in muscle maintenance and repair, but the source matters. Lean proteins such as poultry, fish, tofu and legumes are recommended, as they contribute to satiety without causing significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels. A clinical dietician assists in creating meal plans that incorporate the right balance of proteins, considering the individual's preferences and dietary restrictions.

Not all fats are bad.

Healthy fats are an essential part of a diabetes-friendly diet. Dieticians educate individuals on incorporating sources of unsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, while limiting saturated and trans fats. This not only supports cardiovascular health but also aids in blood sugar management.

Don’t forget to count carbs.

Monitoring carbohydrate intake is a fundamental aspect of diabetes management, and dieticians educate their clients on the importance of counting carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar control. This involves understanding portion sizes, reading food labels and utilizing tools to track daily carbohydrate consumption. Dieticians work closely with individuals to develop practical skills for managing their diet in real-life situations.

Fiber is important.

In addition to macronutrient balance, a clinical dietician addresses the importance of fiber in the diet of someone with diabetes. Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, contribute to digestive health and help control blood sugar levels. Dieticians guide individuals in incorporating a variety of fiber sources into their daily meals.

The dietary needs of someone with diabetes are multifaceted and require a comprehensive understanding of nutrition. A clinical dietician plays a vital role in empowering individuals to make informed choices, achieve a balanced diet and manage their diabetes effectively. Through personalized guidance, individuals with diabetes can embark on a journey towards improved health and well-being, fostering a sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle. To learn more, click here.

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