Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Keeping the math in diabetes

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I was innocently reading twitter last night when I saw the following tweet from a Holistic Nutritionist: 

Are you Diabetic? Get away from the numbers! No carb counting, no constant testing, just REAL FOOD! That’s the answer.

I completely understand what she was getting at. I speak with many newly diagnosed diabetics who are overwhelmed and have no idea what they can eat. I also get a lot of them looking for “diabetic” cookies, granola bars, and sweets. This is during their first grocery shop after diagnosis. I loathe the vast majority of sweets marketed to people with diabetes. Most of them would not fall under the heading of “real food”. They’re full of sugar alcohols and highly processed ingredients. And despite that, they still often have a considerable amount of sugar. What so many people don’t understand is that people with diabetes can eat “real food”. They don’t need to have specially formulated bars and snacks. In fact, the diet that’s recommended for people with diabetes is the diet we should all be following: lots of vegetables along with protein, healthy starches, and dairy (or alternative) products. So, yes, “real food” is the recommended diet for all.

This is where I get ranty… This advice is dangerous. If I was newly diagnosed as diabetic I would not find this helpful. Yes, constant testing of blood sugar is no longer recommended. That doesn’t mean that people with diabetes shouldn’t check their blood sugar at all. It can be very helpful for people with diabetes (especially those who have just been diagnosed) to figure out what foods and activities may trigger highs and lows. It can also help people to become attuned to what high and low blood sugar feels like. Carb counting is also a useful tool for those with diabetes. Consistent quantities of carbohydrates are needed to ensure that appropriate doses of medicine are prescribed. Carb counting helps to make sure that appropriate serving sizes of carbohydrate are being consumed and can help reduce the need for medications. For those with insulin pumps, carb counting is necessary to determine how much insulin should be administered at meal times.

Yes, “real food” is important but taken alone it’s a simplistic solution. The numbers are useful tools to help people figure out when, what, and how much of “real foods” to consume.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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