Anyone diagnosed with diabetes quickly learns that diet is a powerful tool in managing blood sugars.
A new summary of nutrition guidelines for people with diabetesHowever, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines are the gold standard. A couple of weeks ago, the ADA released a consensus report to summarize the nutrition recommendations for adults with diabetes and pre-diabetes. We’ve highlighted some of the most exciting things in this article. If what you read here intrigues you, we encourage you to read the original report for more details and ask your Certified Diabetes Educator or coach about it.
Do my eating habits matter?First, let’s clear up one concern. What you eat DOES matter. Many people with diabetes get frustrated that their blood sugar numbers never seem to track any regular pattern. However, from the report, there is strong evidence that medical nutrition therapy, as recommended by a Registered Dietitian, can improve A1C levels. They observed greater than 1% reduction within 3-6 months, with greater improvement over time. That may sound like a tiny amount, but it’s actually a lot! That’s more than many oral diabetes medications! And don’t forget, every bit helps! Thus, using diet to manage your HbA1c, which is so crucial for long-term diabetes management, is worth exploring.
So why didn't I get coaching?Sadly, most people with diabetes never receive any nutritional therapy or formal education about diabetes. That’s one reason we created mySugr Coach (available with the mySugr Bundle) so that our customers can work with Certified Diabetes Educators right through the app and get this type of high-quality education and information. If you have never received any sort of nutrition coaching after your diagnosis, it might be worthwhile to make an appointment with a dietitian or reach out to your coach through the app. Keeping a food log for a week or two is a great first step to evaluating your eating habits, especially when you have blood sugar data by its side! Thankfully, that’s all easy to do with the mySugr app.
What to eatDiabetes diet plans of the past focus on an ideal percentage of carbs, protein, and fat, the so-called “macronutrients” for all people with and without diabetes. These plans lock us into some ideal of how we should eat. However, after studying all the data, it turns out that there are NO ideal percentages that fit all people affected with diabetes. Not only did the consensus report conclude that a one-size-fits-all eating plan doesn’t work for managing, or even preventing, diabetes, it goes so far as to say that it’s unrealistic to even think there is such a thing as a one-size-fits-all plan that is reasonable for everyone. Frankly, this is astonishing! Popular belief leads you to believe you’re like a machine – put in the right fuel and you’ll automatically react a certain way. But this report says otherwise. You have to find the right foods, and the right balance of those foods, that work best for your individual diabetes management. So, what’s to be done? Find out what works best for YOU. Getting help from a dietitian familiar with medical nutrition therapy for diabetes can help. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case your blood sugar and A1C numbers. The report recommends four eating tips that did result in improved numbers:
- Emphasize non-starchy vegetables.
- Minimize added sugars and refined grains.
- Choose whole foods over highly processed foods.
- Reduce overall carb intake and increase fiber.