For diabetes patients, planning meals around one’s blood sugar and dietary needs can be a balancing act. However, nutritionists and dietitians from across Texoma are offering simple tips to help patients balance both their blood sugar and their plate.
Stephanie Seekamp, a registered dietician and nutritionist with Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center, said there are individual nuances based on medication and patient goals, but she often recommends moderating carbohydrate intake.
“Most of the time in this area we see type-2 diabetes and they are overweight, so we typically try to get them on what is called the consistent carbohydrate diet,” she said.
Seekamp said this typically includes eating about the same amount of carbs with each meal every day. Through this, she said patients not only build a routine for themselves and their eating habits but it also builds a more consistent blood sugar throughout the day. Through routine meals, she said patients can fight the urge to snack throughout the day, which can affect overall blood sugar.
“What we are trying to do is avoid the highs and lows that come with inconsistency,” she said.
In addition to moderating carb intake, Seekamp enphasized that patients must eat the right kind of carbs — ones that take longer to process. For most people, this includes eliminating sugary foods like soda, sweet tea and candy from their diet.
Foods with whole grains rather than processed grains typically contain more fiber, making them slower for the body to process. These foods also make the body feel fuller, cutting some of the temptation to snack throughout the day, she said.
Patients should also look at ways to partner their food with other healthy options. While carbs might not be the most filling, a serving of healthy peanut butter may give a meal more longevity along with other important vitamins and nutrients, she said.
“We don’t want them to eat just a carb, because it is easier to break them down quickly,” she said.
Controlling carbs in a diet doesn’t mean that patients have to cut all sweet foods from their diet. Seekamp said fruits are often recommended, but patients should eat them in moderation, as not all fruits have the same sugar content.
“We don’t like to recommend cutting fruit out completely, because there are so many benefits to fruit as well,” she said.
Patients dealing with type-1 diabetes typically do not have the same restrictions on diet. Unlike patients dealing with type-2 diabetes, type-1 patients are typically under weight or at normal weight for their size.
Many type-1 patients are able to eat a normal diet, but instead rely on regular insulin injections to balance blood sugar. In these cases, dietary changes are not enough to balance blood sugar levels, she said.
Roylyn Selvy, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Texoma Medical Center, also said that dietary needs depend on the individual. However, dietitians focus on ensuring that patients have a well-balanced diet through other types of foods.
“It is about making sure their metabolic needs are met while focusing on the food groups that are nutrient dense,” she said.
Among these foods, Selvy said she often recommends a diet based on whole grains, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy. Healthy fats, including olive oil, nuts, avocados and fish, can also be included.
With the upcoming holiday season, Selvy said patients do not need to outright avoid holiday foods and sweet treats. Instead, they should be aware of what and how much they are eating and practice moderation.
“A general recommendation would be to have a general desert, but only a little bit,” she said. “In other words, not the whole pie.”