Teaching your diabetic patients these 3 basic rules about nutrition during each visit will allow them to make effective changes that have lasting impact.
Patients are often overwhelmed when they learn they are diabetic. They usually have been eating what they liked and they don’t easily adjust to the idea of having to give up their favorite foods. And many people tend to think that if they take insulin, they can keep eating whatever they want.
Tip #1: The Best Carbs for Diabetics
Carbohydrates are still an important nutritional source for people with type 2 diabetes, although they should be limited. Patients should focus on eating complex carbohydrates (good carbs), as the metabolism has to work harder to break them down to sugars, while avoiding bad carbs (which are stored almost immediately as sugar).
Good carbs have lower glycemic index scores:
- Fresh fruits
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Bran cereals
- Whole grain breads
Bad carbs include processed foods that have high glycemic index scores:
- Candy, sugared sodas
- Pastries, cakes, and cookies
- Breads made from refined (white) flour
- Sugared breakfast cereals
For more on the glycemic index, download this page.
Tip #2 Choose Fruits and Berries Instead of Processed Sugar
Fruit is an excellent choice to satisfy a sweet tooth, but some fruits are better choices than others, especially for diabetics:
- Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are lowest in sugar and highest in fiber, which helps reduce insulin resistance.
- Grapes make an excellent snack. At 16 grams of sugar per 100 grams, grapes have higher sugar content than berries, but they also contain polyphenols which have shown modulatory effects on blood glucose.
- Apples are also good choices. Low in sugar 10g/100g, apples have benefits against type 2 diabetes and stroke. Advise your patient to eat the peel.
Whole fruit is always preferable to cut fruit, as it is easier to manage portions, and fruit should always be fresh, rather than canned (which often has added sugars). Fruit juices should be avoided as it takes several servings of fruit to make juice, which tremendously increases the sugar content.
Tip #3: Drink Plenty of Water
It may seem like simple advice, but many people with diabetes don’t drink enough water, resulting in almost chronic dehydration. Drinking water is critical to maintaining good circulatory and organ function necessary to stabilizing glucose levels. The recommended amount of water is one 8-ounce glass per day for every 20 pounds of body weight (eg, 6 glasses for 120 lbs, 10 glasses for 200 lbs) in addition to other beverages such as tea and coffee.
For more tips, view these charts on Pinterest.