As holiday season starts, diet is not a popular word.  But, when the New Year rolls around, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier.  I am asked about different diets all the time.  The problem with diets is that they are often short-term because they are difficult to maintain.  Instead of focusing on a specific diet, I like to encourage people with diabetes to have an eating plan.

American Diabetes Association (ADA) Recommendations

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that there is not one diet or meal plan that works for everyone with diabetes.  ADA doesn’t specify recommended amounts of carbohydrates, protein, or fats.   This is because what works for one person may not work for another person.  When people eat identical foods, they can have a different blood glucose response. For example, if two people eat a slice of bread they will likely have a different glucose value after eating it. This variation in response can be for a variety of reasons including genetics, but also our gut bacteria or microbiome.  Our gut bacteria are affected by what you eat, sleep, stress, exercise, and certain medications.  The best way to know how what you eat effects your glucose is to test your glucose before you eat and 1-2 hours after a meal.  Keep a log to determine what affects your glucose.

ADA recommends several eating plans that are healthy and can help with glycemic control including Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Mediterranean, and plant-based plans. These plans don’t contain the same amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates but can all be healthy choices. The diabetes plate methodand estimating carbohydrate intake can also be good tools for glycemic control.

What’s New from ADA

ADA recently launched their new Diabetes Food Hub.  This interactive site allows you to browse recipes, create a weekly meal plan, view nutrition facts, and create a grocery list.  Recipes can be customized by cuisine or preferences such as vegetarian or low carb.  The nutrition facts include potassium and phosphorus which are not on all food labels and are important for people with chronic kidney disease.  Be sure to check out the Diabetes Food Hubfor recipes and meal planning.


While there is a lot of information online about diabetes, it’s important to know where you can go for diabetes education.  ADA recommends diabetes self-management education and support for everyone with diabetes.  For group or individual diabetes education, look for a ADA Recognized Education Program.  If you don’t have an eating plan, make an appointment with a registered dietitianfor a personalized eating plan.  You may know someone who is at risk for diabetes.  Tell them about  recognized diabetes prevention programsfrom CDC.  Know where you can go for trusted information about support and management of your diabetes.

by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE




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