Dietician Jeshneila Carti highlights nutrition with type 2 Diabetes

POSTED: 04/5/16 8:52 PM

St. Maarten – Nutrition is a critical part of diabetes care. Balancing the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein along with fiber, vitamins and minerals helps us to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. Jeshneila Carti, dietician at the St. Maarten Medical Center, highlights the most important issues here.

Controlling the amount of carbohydrates in your diet will help keep your blood sugar/glucose levels closer to normal and reduce your risk of developing complications.

Main changes you need to make in your lifestyle:

Manage your weight

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Eat a balanced healthy diet
  3. Eat more vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit
  4. Avoid processed and high-sugary foods
  5. Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking

When you exercise your muscles need more glucose to supply energy. In response, your liver increases the amount of glucose it releases into your bloodstream. Remember, however, that the glucose needs insulin in order to be used by your muscles. So if you do not have enough insulin available, your blood glucose levels can actually increase right after exercise.

1. Manage your weight

If you are overweight, losing weight can improve your blood sugar. Simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet and help lose weight easier

2. Exercise regularly

  • Pick an exercise that you enjoy. You have lots of options, and you don’t have to go to a gym. Dancing, walking, swimming, biking or strength training.
  • Get your doctors okay! They can make sure you’re ready for it. They’ll also check to see if you need to change your adjust your diet or diabetes medication.
  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercise.

3. Eat a balanced and healthy diet with small to moderate meals

Portion size is very important when considering the biggest effects on your blood glucose levels.

4. Eat more vegetables, legumes, whole grains

These food products are high in fiber, and can help improve diabetes sugar level control. Managing Diabetes has to do with managing your blood glucose, blood fats, blood pressure and your weight, and vegetables can play a positive role in all these.

  • Include more vegetables with meals and use them as snacks in between meals.
  • Use more dried peas and beans.
  • Try high fiber cereals like oats and bran flakes.
  • Use whole-wheat or multi-grain bread and biscuits.
  • Try brown rice and whole-wheat pasta instead of white rice.

The glycemic index measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do.

And… fruit

Fruits and vegetables have a good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber which is good for your bowels and general health – so it makes sense to eat more of them!

All fruits contain natural sugar, but also contain a good mix of vitamins and minerals.

The concern has been that because fruits contain sugar, it makes your blood glucose go up. In fact, most fruits have low to medium glycemic index, so they do not lead to a severe rise in your blood glucose levels compared to other carbohydrate containing foods like white bread.

  • Managing fruit portion size help keep blood glucose

levels stable.

What about fruit juices?

Fruit juices, even unsweetened, are high in sugars and because they have less fiber than the whole fruits, they are not as beneficial.

  • Drinking fruit juices can result to your blood glucose levels going up and may affect your weight negatively in the long term as well.

5. Limit take-away, processed and unhealthy foods

Everyone’s allowed to indulge once in a while, and it’s no different if you’ve got diabetes. Fast food tends to be higher in fat and salt than if you cook up a similar meal at home. Here are some tips to reduce fat intake:

  • Use less saturated fat by having less butter, margarine and cheese.
  • Choose lean meat and fish as low-fat alternatives to fatty meats.
  • Choose lower-fat dairy foods such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low-fat or diet yogurts, reduced-fat cheese and lower-fat spreads.
  • Grill, steam or oven bake instead of frying or cooking with oil or other fats.
  • Watch out for creamy sauces and dressings and swap for tomato-based sauces instead.
  • Limit salt intake and experiment with other flavorings such as onion, garlic, celery, chives, pepper, curry, bay leaf and thyme.
  • 6. Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking

Most people with diabetes can have a moderate amount of alcohol. If your doctor approves, you may include small amounts of alcoholic beverages in your healthy eating plan.

  • Moderation is important: Woman should have no more than 1 drink per day, and men should have no more than 2 drinks per day.

Note: Alcohol can have a very rapid blood glucose lowering effect, which is slowed if there is food in your stomach.

At SMMC, the Food Services Department works closely together with the dietitian to develop meal plans that are both delicious and nutrition for our patients and staff. We offer as series of brochures to everyone about hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol. These brochures provide information and tips on eating healthy to prevent and combat these diseases with a proper, healthy diet.

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