If you or someone you know has diabetes, you know that managing your diabetes is key to your overall health and well-being. Well-managed diabetes, as opposed to uncontrolled diabetes, can have a significant positive impact on your long-term health.
We all want to be and stay healthy - so, taking charge of your diabetes, learning how to control it, and live a healthy life is your key to success.
But, what if you aren’t exactly sure how to manage your diabetes ? What if you feel like you need more support?
This is where a registered dietitian comes in.
Registered dietitians, like myself and my team at OnPoint Nutrition, are educated and trained to help you manage your diabetes via diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle practices.
In this article, I’ll outline the main goals for managing diabetes:
- Controlling blood sugar
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Preventing and treating comorbidities
- Promoting balanced nutrition to optimize health
We’ll also dive into how a dietitian can help you achieve your diabetes goals by addressing:
- What to eat
- When to eat
- How much to eat
- Lifestyle guidance
Diabetes Management Goals
Control Blood Sugar
Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels, also referred to as blood glucose levels, are consistently high. Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to other health problems, often called comorbidities.
The number one goal when managing diabetes is controlling blood sugar.
You may take medications and/or insulin prescribed by your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels. Additionally, working with a dietitian to change your diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle behaviors can help you ensure you are doing everything in your power to manage your blood sugar.
Achieve And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Weight and blood sugar are correlated so achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, can help manage your blood sugar and your diabetes.
Research shows that losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can help improve your blood sugar levels. However, if you are already at a healthy weight, you may not need to lose any weight.
Your dietitian can help you determine a healthy, realistic weight for you to work toward. Together you can develop a plan to achieve and maintain that weight long-term.
Prevent And Treat Comorbidities
As we discussed previously, consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to other health problems:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Eye disease
- Dental disease
- Nerve damage
- Foot problems
Another goal of diabetes management is to prevent these conditions from occurring.
If you are already dealing with these co-occurring conditions, your dietitian can help you manage these conditions along with your diabetes.
Promote Balanced Nutrition To Optimize Health
While there are many eating patterns that are suggested to help with diabetes management, working with a dietitian is key to finding the optimal nutritional balance for you.
Together, you and your dietitian will review your eating and exercise habits, as well as your overall lifestyle. Your dietitian will then thoroughly assess your nutritional status and develop a personalized nutrition plan just for you.
Striking a balance between getting enough nutrients to fuel your body and optimize your health without getting too much of anything is something your dietitian will help you navigate.
How A Dietitian Can Help You Achieve Your Diabetes Goals
What To Eat
Certain foods contribute to higher blood sugar levels, while other foods help maintain lower glucose levels.
In general, foods that are high in sugar and sweeteners cause a spike in your blood sugar, which is best to avoid. Sugary drinks like soda, candy and desserts, and sweet alcoholic beverages all have a big impact on your blood sugar.
Additionally, highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates also cause significant increases in blood sugar. Packaged snack foods, white bread, and white pasta are also examples of foods that your dietitian is likely to recommend limiting.
On the flip side, your dietitian will likely recommend eating:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Healthy fats
While individual foods may positively or negatively impact your blood sugar levels, the combination of foods you eat can also play a role in blood sugar management. Pairing a food like fruit that is higher in sugar with a healthy fat source like nuts or nut butter will reduce the impact it has on your blood sugar.
Your dietitian will help you figure out which foods to include and how to pair them together for optimal blood glucose management.
When To Eat
If you have diabetes, when you eat matters.
While you don’t want your blood sugar levels to get too high, you also don’t want them to get too low. Going too long between meals and snacks can cause a large drop in your blood sugar, which is also not good for your body or your diabetes.
Your dietitian will help you figure out an eating pattern that works for you, your schedule, your hunger levels, and your diabetes.
How Much To Eat
What you eat is important, but choosing the correct amount of food will also play a large role in managing your blood sugar.
As we discussed above, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is also key for optimal diabetes management. Adjusting your portion sizes can help you achieve your ideal body weight.
Your dietitian will help you determine the best portion sizes for you, your body, and your blood sugar.
Food is clearly very important for managing blood sugar and diabetes. However, it is not the only thing your dietitian can help you navigate.
Other holistic lifestyle factors including your exercise, sleep, stress, and more all greatly impact your blood sugar levels over time. Working with your dietitian to optimize all of these factors will help you achieve full control of your diabetes.
Where To Go From Here
If you are ready to take control of your diabetes symptoms, you are in the right place.
At this point, you know that controlling your blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, managing comorbidities, and promoting a balanced diet are the goals of working with a dietitian on your diabetes.
You also know that when you work with a dietitian you will learn what and when to eat, how much to eat, and how to adjust your lifestyle to improve your diabetes.
If you are ready to dive into nutrition counseling with a dietitian, we are here for you.
Our team of dietitians and nutritionists has helped over 3,000 people, just like you, achieve their nutrition and health goals.
If you’re interested in finding out more about OnPoint and the experience we provide to our virtual, one-on-one nutrition counseling clients, learn more about our client experience here.
When you are ready to take the leap, schedule your free consultation.
Liz has been reading nutrition labels since she learned how to read. Growing up with severe peanut and tree nut allergies she learned that it’s important to know what you are putting into your body. She made her first big lifestyle change as a freshman in high school, when she decided to become a vegetarian. However, it wasn’t until she took a food class in Italy as part of a study abroad program in college that it clicked in her mind that she wanted to make food and nutrition her career. Liz graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, as well as a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She completed her dietetic internship with Aramark in Philadelphia, and her master's degree at Northeastern University shortly after.