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Nutrition

Managing Diabetes And Blood Glucose Levels

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes recently or in the past, managing your blood glucose levels can sometimes feel overwhelming. It is important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan as every individual is different. Your blood glucose levels are affected by many other factors aside from nutrition and eating patterns, including medications and stress. Working with a registered dietitian to create an individualized plan is important for guidance and direction when starting on your path toward a healthy lifestyle.

Emphasize Balance, Variety, & Flexibility

Following a healthy eating plan for diabetes management does not have to be strict or rigid. Rather, it should be a flexible plan that focuses on variety and suits your lifestyle and preferences. This means that there are ways to incorporate your favorite foods and meals without compromising your blood glucose control and overall health goals.

Build a Balanced Plate

Starting with a balanced plate at each meal can provide a great foundation when you’re working toward long-term, sustainable eating patterns. So, what exactly does a balanced plate include? Aim to make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables and/or fruits, a quarter of your plate whole grains or starchy vegetables, and a quarter of your plate lean or plant-based protein.1 Each of the main food groups provide many different benefits. Therefore, having a variety of minimally processed foods in the right portion sizes at each meal can not only help you gain better control of your blood sugars, but also help you to maintain a healthy weight.

Making Carbohydrates Count

When it comes to carbohydrates, or starches, a good starting goal is to make at least half of your carbohydrate intake whole grains.2 In contrast to refined grains (white flour, white bread, white rice), whole grains are minimally processed – this means that they retain the most nutrients, including fiber, and will therefore offer additional health benefits. Some examples of whole grains include brown rice, farro, quinoa, and whole grain or whole wheat breads.3

Optimize Meal Timing

If you have diabetes, your meals should be spaced out evenly throughout the day. This means that you should not go long periods of time without eating during the day. Whether or not you are on medications for your diabetes, skipping meals can be dangerous because it can lead to significant fluctuations in your blood sugar.4 Additionally, skipping meals often leads to overeating which can cause a spike in blood sugar. Try to eat every 4 to 5 hours to keep your levels balanced.

Focus on Fiber

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), increasing fiber intake may help in modestly lowering your A1C.3 It is preferable to get your fiber through foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, and lentils. Foods that are high in fiber are digested more slowly, so they are less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar.5 The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people with diabetes should consume a minimum of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.2

Think Healthy Beverages

If you have diabetes, it is best to limit sugar-sweetened beverages that tend to be high in calories without much nutritional value. Due to their added sugar content, these types of drinks can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. Below are a few alternatives that are low in calories and do not contain any added sugars, meaning they will not have an effect on blood sugar levels.5 

Are you looking to make changes but not sure where to start? Speak with one of Season’s registered dietitians for diabetes management and support. Our dedicated team will work with you to create a customized plan based on your lifestyle, preferences, and health goals. Click here to see if you are eligible for Season’s nutrition prescription program.


References

  1. American Diabetes Association. Eat good to feel good. Published 2021. Accessed October 18, 2021. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. Published December 2020. Accessed October 18, 2021. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
  3. Evert AB, Dennison M, Gardner CD, et al. Nutrition therapy for adults with diabetes or prediabetes: a consensus report. Diabetes Care 2019;42(5):731-754. https://doi.org/10.2337/dci19-0014.
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes diet, eating, & physical activity. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity. Published 2016. Accessed October 18, 2021.
  5. American Diabetes Association. Find your balance when it comes to carbs. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/understanding-carbs/get-to-know-carbs. Published 2021. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Elizabeth Adrian, RD, CDN

Elizabeth is a registered dietitian nutritionist with clinical experience at healthcare systems, including NYU Langone Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Her interest in nutrition-related public policy and desire to work with underserved populations has led to experiences outside of the hospital setting, including spending time as a nutrition education volunteer in Tanzania, Africa. She has also worked as a research assistant and nutrition counselor for Cooking Up Energy, a cooking & nutrition education program for predominantly BIPOC children and adolescents at the Boys & Girls Club. Elizabeth hopes to utilize her diverse background and passion for science, medical nutrition therapy, and community nutrition to support clinically-related product and service development efforts at Season.

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