Diabetes and Nutrition
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body turns sugar into energy. There are several types of diabetes.
In type I diabetes, also known as “juvenile onset”, “insulin-dependent”, or “brittle diabetes”, little or no insulin is produced and the cells cannot get glucose from the bloodstream. The glucose remains in the blood causing high blood glucose, also known as hyperglycemia. Without the insulin, your body cannot use glucose or the energy it supplies.
In type II diabetes, also known as “maturity-onset”, “adult onset”, or “insulin resistant”, your body may not be making enough insulin or the insulin it is making is not working right. This may happen when your cells do not take in enough glucose from the bloodstream because you have trouble using insulin. Your liver may release more stored glucose into the bloodstream than your body needs. Your pancreas may not make enough insulin or it may not supply insulin soon enough after you eat. With any of these factors, glucose builds up in the blood causing high blood glucose or hyperglycemia.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that may occur during pregnancy. This occurs because during pregnancy, levels of hormones in your bloodstream increase causing blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. Your cells have trouble using insulin, so they cannot take in enough glucose. Normally, the pancreas produces extra insulin to move the glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. This keeps the blood glucose in a healthy range. Gestational diabetes occurs if your pancreas cannot make enough insulin and the glucose stays in your blood stream, leading to high blood glucose or hyperglycemia.
Eating with Diabetes
People with diabetes do not need special foods. In fact, the foods that are good for everyone are good for you. You can make a difference in your blood glucose control through your food choices. To keep your blood glucose levels near normal, you need to balance the food you eat, your physical activities, and the insulin your body makes or gets by injection. Blood glucose monitoring gives you information to help you with this balancing act. Near-normal blood glucose levels help you feel better and may reduce or prevent the complications of diabetes.
It is helpful for most people with diabetes to eat about the same amount of carbohydrate around the same time each day. However, if you take multiple daily injections of insulin to control you blood glucose levels, you have more freedom to choose your foods and mealtimes.
Regardless of how you manage your diabetes, try to spread you meals throughout the day and do not skip meals. If you use insulin or some glucose lowering medications, skipping meals may lead to low blood glucose levels and may make it harder to control you appetite.
Snacks can also be an important part of many diabetes food plans. The actual amount or carbohydrates for each snack and meal can depend on the number of calories you need, which in turn depends on the sex, size, age, and activity level. A dietitian (RD) can help you decide on a meal plan to get the right balance specifi cally for you.
A good starting point for most people is 45-60g of carbohydrate at each meal and 15-30g of carbohydrate
at each snack, shooting for the lesser end of the range when weight loss is the goal.
If you have gestational diabetes, 30g carbohydrate at breakfast is more appropriate. A bedtime snack with
15g carbohydrate and 7g protein may be important to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels and hunger
throughout the night.
Also, you should avoid concentrated sweets, such as:
- Ice cream
- Sweetened cereal
- Candied fruit
- Regular soft drinks
- Sweet rolls
- Fruit juice
- Regular Jell-O
- Canned fruit in syrup