Diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes has exploded over the past few years. The growing diagnosis in children is particularly of concern. Despite the multitude of sound resources available online, newly diagnosed people with diabetes, or parents of children diagnosed with the problem, are still confused, and asking themselves “what can I eat?!”. This confusion is possibly caused by a number of things – perhaps physicians aren’t referring newly diagnosed patients to meet with a dietitian or diabetes educator, or perhaps folks are simply confused by the plethora of nutrition misinformation that they read about or are confused by diet advice they may get at the local gym.
Fad diets have no place in a healthy diabetes lifestyle. I’d like to clear up some of this confusion, by busting some common myths about eating for diabetes (no matter your age):
- Eating well with diabetes simply means consuming a healthy, balanced diet, void of junk food. Occasional treats can easily be worked into the diet, but overall, you want to make the healthiest choices possible each day.
- You don’t have to choose “special” food, nor “diabetic” food. You also don’t always need to choose “sugar-free” (a diet soda, or other sugar-free AND calorie-free food or beverage, is fine, but a sugar-free cookie or pie is unnecessary -portions are what matter most)
- It’s important to balance out your meals – that is, eat about the same amount of food/calories, at about the same time daily. Using a traditional “three meals a day” plan is a great idea
- For Type 2 diabetes, even a small amount of weight loss usually has a big impact on blood sugar control. Exercise is important too
- Since every person is different, each person requires different meal planning strategies for success. Meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator (look for CDE after a dietitian or nurse’s name)
There is a lot to learn with a new diagnosis of diabetes, and it’s important to take the diagnosis very seriously. You don’t have to make changes overnight, it’s a process to adopt a healthier lifestyle; but, look at the diagnosis as a motivator to eat the best diet possible, and live the healthiest lifestyle that you can!
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to take charge right away. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian, and read up on the numerous resources available online. Beware of terms such as “quick fix” or “cure”.
The goal in managing diabetes, is eating well, getting regular exercise, so that you can keep your blood sugars within normal range throughout the day and week.
There is no cure for diabetes, but eating a sensible diet will control the disease and keep you healthy.
Here are several excellent resources to use if you have diabetes:
- The American Diabetes Association is an excellent resource and the website has a multitude of information about diabetes. If you have a teen with diabetes – there’s a handbook you can download.
- Diabetes Everyday provides tips, news, and easy recipes and meal planning strategies. Founded by a dietitian who lives with diabetes, this is your go-to site for every day help
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Kids Eat Right®.
- I have authored two books that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle with diabetes. The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies® offers tips and recipes, as well as meal planning ideas. The DASH Diet For Dummies® is a proven healthy eating plan, that has also been shown to be useful in managing diabetes as its low in sugar, high in fiber, and well-balanced.