Medical Nutritional Therapy

Diabetes and Nutritional Care

Our dietitians can provide one on one nutritional care to patients for a variety of conditions and diseases. These include, diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders, food allergies/intolerances, weight management, and many other diseases and conditions.

During an appointment with the dietitian a patient will receive individual counselling and specific guidance with special diets. Our dietitian will:

  1. Analyse a usual food intake and suggest changes to improve eating habits.
  2. Help patients understand the many complications of diabetes, how to test blood sugars, how to administer insulin, and understand the action and side effects of diabetes medications.
  3. Inform the doctor regarding the nutritional care plan.
  4. Provide a personalized diet instruction plan based on mutually determined goals.
  5. Take a diet history and set goals that fit an individual's lifestyle.
In order to help you, our team have included a food diary for you to print and complete. Please take a day and fill out the form stating specifically what you ate, how it was prepared, what time it was, and how you were feeling. This additional tool will help your dietitian set goals that will better fit your lifestyle.
Following are the approaches usually followed at our ADEA Diabetes centre:
1. Start with the Diabetes Plate Method
A great starting place when thinking about food and planning meals, is using Diabetes Plate Method.  This is a picture of a plate where 50% of the plate is non-starchy vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% carbohydrates.  This means that 75% of your plate is low to no carbohydrates.  You don’t have to weigh and measure food, just use your plate to plan portions.  Think about variety when you use the plate method.  Change up the protein, vegetables, and carbs to increase nutrients and keep your plate interesting.
2. Choose Healthy Drinks
Another important first step is making sure what you drink is healthy and not causing your glucose to spike.  While you may have stopped drinking soda, remember that 100% juice, sweetened coffee, and sports or energy drinks can still add unwanted sugar.  Diet drinks, meaning those containing artificial sweeteners, can be used but it is best to limit those as well.  Diet drinks may not directly raise blood glucose, but the more your taste buds are exposed to sweet the more you crave sweets.  Artificial sweeteners aren’t neutral and have also been linked to glucose changes and decreasing the good bacteria in your gut.
Start by drinking more water.  Other healthy drink options include sparking water, coconut water, unsweetened coffee or tea, vegetable juice, milk, or unsweetened plant-based milks such as almond, coconut, oat, or soy milk.
People with diabetes need to stay hydrated.  Dehydration can lead to high glucose and high glucose levels can cause dehydration.  A bonus is that being hydrated can also keep you feeling satisfied.  Carry water with you during the day as a reminder to drink often.
3. Be Carb Aware
Eating healthy with diabetes is about more than carbohydrates, but a good starting place is carb awareness.  The first step of carb awareness is knowing which foods raise glucose and which ones don’t.  The food groups that contain carbohydrates include starch (pasta, rice, bread, cereal, legumes), fruits, vegetables (starchy and non-starchy), milk and yogurt.  Protein (poultry, fish, meat, eggs, cheese) and fats (oils, avocado, nuts, seeds) contain very few to no carbs.
The second step to carb awareness is starting to look at portions, or the amount of carbs you eat.  This can be done using the Diabetes Plate Method or using measuring cups.  Recommendations for portions should be individualized to your needs.
Remember that being carb aware doesn’t mean eating very low carb.  Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is most known for keeping us regular, but it helps slow down the rise in glucose, creates happy gut bacteria, and takes waste out of our body including things like hormones and toxins.  Choose carbs high in fibbers such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes.
4. Add Flavour
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you need to eat foods that taste bland, but it does mean you might need to get creative with flavour.  You should enjoy the food you eat.  For many people with diabetes this means learning to enjoy more vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
To add flavour, start by using more herbs and spices when cooking.  These not only provide flavour but also boost your intake of antioxidants.  Cinnamon has been linked to lowering glucose, garlic to heart health, and turmeric to decreasing inflammation.
Other ideas for added flavour without sugar include citrus juice or zest, hot pepper sauce, chipotle peppers, chili sauce, mustard, vinegar, salsa, soy sauce, tapenade, wasabi, cocoa powder, or sauerkraut. 
5. Be Mindful
We can be mindful in many areas of life.  We make hundreds of decisions about food each day-what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, how quickly to eat, where to eat.  Most of these decisions are automatic, meaning that we don’t stop to think and make choices.  Mindful eating can have a big impact on your eating habits which will affect your blood glucose.
Try eating slowly (around 20 minutes to eat a meal), eating without TV, phone, or other distractions so your body can process those feelings of satisfaction.  Be present and appreciate the food you have and how it nourishes your body.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, seek support our dietitian and related team for proper planning for customised and individual diet plan as a part of treatment plan and it’s mandatory for each patient as per guideline.