Diet for Diabetes

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes, medically referred to as Diabetes Mellitus, is a chronic condition in which the body has an impaired ability to control the amount of glucose (a simple sugar molecule) in the blood stream. Glucose is an important source of fuel for our bodies. It’s especially important for our brain and muscle function although, like most substances in our body, needs to be maintained within certain ranges for optimal health.

The body naturally produces a hormone called insulin that encourages glucose to be moved from the blood into our body’s cells. It can then be used for essential bodily functions and helps to control blood glucose levels.

In people with diabetes of any form (yes, there are more than one type and it’s important to know the difference!), this process does not proceed as normal. There is insufficient insulin being produced or the insulin produced is being resisted by the body and is ineffective to control blood glucose levels.

Due to this change in the glucose processing system within the body, the levels of glucose in the blood in people with diabetes rise above normal levels. This is how your doctor is able to detect if you have developed diabetes through regular blood tests or a process called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).

As you can see, the development of diabetes is not simply due to how much sugar you eat. It refers to how well your body is equipped to handle changes in your blood glucose levels.

What Are the Risk Factors for Diabetes?

Risk factors for some forms of Diabetes include:

  Being overweight.
  Being inactive.
  Older age.
  Having genetic factors including a history of diabetes in the family.
  Some ethnicities.

Without changes to your diet and lifestyle and, in some cases, the use of some prescribed medications when diagnosed with diabetes, your blood glucose control will remain outside of target ranges. This can put you at increased risk of short and long term complications including:

  Heart disease.
  Kidney disease.
  Stroke, eye, foot and circulation problems.
  Higher risk of infections.
  Higher risk of complications during pregnancy.

How Can Our Dietitian for Diabetes Help? 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. However, our Dietitian for Diabetes can assist you to manage your condition using diet and lifestyle changes.

Often people are very overwhelmed after receiving a diagnosis of diabetes and are very confused as to what they are allowed to eat! So first and foremost our Dietitian for Diabetes can help by myth-busting the following ideas:

  Can I reverse my diabetes?
  Am I allowed to have sugar?
  Should I completely eliminate carbohydrate foods?
  Will eating this giant dessert milkshake give me diabetes as I’ve seen in the media?

Furthermore, we can provide education, resources and support in the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle whether you are newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for a period of time. Topics often include:

  Carbohydrate modified diet appropriate to the form of diabetes you are living with.
  Carbohydrate sources, portions, counting and distribution (i.e. spread over the day).
  Glycaemic Index and effect on diabetes management.
  Meeting nutritional requirements – especially important during pregnancy.
  Effect of weight and physical activity on blood glucose levels.
  Managing eating out and social occasions.
  Trouble-shooting and day-to-day practicalities of living with the condition.
  Label reading and cooking skills.
  Handy resources including phone applications and recipes.
  Dietary fats and sources.
  Macronutrients – carbohydrate, fat, protein, alcohol.

What’s Involved In Seeing Our Dietitian for Diabetes? 

Firstly, it’s important to realise that a Dietitian is not the diet police! Rather we want to assist you to make better choices and improve your health and wellbeing taking into consideration your personal situation. Often this may involve making changes to what and how much food you eat.

When you see our Dietitian for Diabetes, you will complete a pre-appointment questionnaire. This helps our Dietitian understand your needs and personal goals. We can then tailor your session and help create your personalised meal plan considering your likes and dislikes.

Discussion around your relevant social, medical and weight background, current medications, recent pathology results, self-blood glucose monitoring results if applicable, usual foods and drinks eaten, timings of meals, eating behaviours and physical activity levels to assess your current health situation.

Our Dietitian for Diabetes will answer nutrition-related queries and provide explanations of diet-disease relationships so you understand your health condition better and why changes may be necessary.

Our Dietitian for Diabetes will also provide Nutrition education to equip you with the skills to make your own educated choices. She will discuss various nutrition strategies to move forward with achievable and realistic goals.

How Often Will I Need To See The Dietitian for Diabetes? 

After the initial appointment with our Dietitian for Diabetes, follow-up consults will usually be encouraged within 2-3 weeks. This will help ensure you have been able to implement any negotiated strategies, to make any adjustments to the meal plan and provide support and accountability while making changes to your usual diet. Subsequent consultations are then scheduled as often as people find necessary after this point to assist in meeting their health goals.

Our Dietitian practices throughout the Northern Beaches - Brookvale and Mona Vale. For more information, give us a call on (02)9907 6023, or email us - admin@reboundhealth.com.au for any questions or to book.