Research from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) reported in 1993 that diet was the most difficult aspect of diabetes self-care. With new food products, the internet, diet books (some good, some not so good), and well intentioned family members or neighbors it is even more challenging to understand the important role food plays in managing diabetes.
These challenges include a list so long that it can make your head spin. Here are some of the many issues to consider: adhering to a diet to maintain or lose weight, counting carbohydrates, understanding glycemic index of foods, interpreting blood sugars and how they relate to what you ate, treating low blood sugars without over-treating, controlling snacking behavior, and managing high blood sugars. Other topics include: travel eating, eating out, food for sport, and the list goes on and on.
Patients in the (DCCT) were followed extensively by a registered dietitian throughout this study that focused on maintaining strict diabetes control. The results of the study made it clear that those who followed the diet over 90% of the time had HbA1C levels .9 mg lower than those who followed the diet less than 45% of the time.
So now that we know that diet is such a vital part of strict diabetes control and can reduce diabetes complications, how can we make this difficult aspect of care easier to handle within the demands of daily life?
Jacqueline King, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND and Monica Joyce, MS, RDN, CDE, two well-known and award winning Chicago dietitian/nutritionists decided to write a book that would help the general public with eating healthier in today’s busy world. At first, they concentrated on pharmaceutical representatives because they repeatedly asked for advice when visiting their offices. But when they started to talk to their patients and other individuals about their book, everyone stated that they felt they could use a book like this. Whether a working mother with children, a physician juggling between offices, an executive traveling across the country, or the senior involved in many activities, they all had similar challenges: too little time to eat healthy.
Jackie and Monica knew that their patients with diabetes have to juggle the same busy life styles along with the burden of managing diabetes. They also knew many patients have weight concerns so they planned a book that would support weight loss efforts.
Jackie King, a dietitian who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 47 years agrees that diet is the most difficult aspect of diabetes care. When she was first diagnosed with diabetes, she found herself intrigued by the nutritional aspects of the treatment. There was little else other than taking insulin with huge needles and measuring sugar in the urine. She quickly found that dietary indiscretions resulted in poor urine results, increased trips to the washroom with thirst, and generally feeling lousy. She found, as a child growing up with diabetes that adhering to the diet would demand pre-planning, discipline, and dedication. During high school, she found that bringing a school lunch and snacks made it easier to follow her meal plan. Although she had worried that the other teens would mock her lunches, she found an interest in the healthy foods she was eating as well as the treatment of diabetes. When she decided to become a dietitian and diabetes educator, it was a natural progression from what she had been doing for years. She had become an advocate for healthy eating, exercise, and prevention of diabetes. She often tells patients who discover they have pre-diabetes that is it a blessing. And this is because they can now work to eliminate the possibility of developing diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. The diagnosis is like a WARNING Red Light that is telling you to STOP! It is time to redirect your behavior so you can feel better and live a healthier, productive life.
Here is our Wish List (taken from our book) to help you eat healthier and manage your diabetes.
- Cook healthy meals more often. Try a new recipe each week.
- Eat more meals at home and sit down with the family.
- Plan meals and snacks and shop for healthy foods at least once a week.
- Discover simple, healthy recipes that you can make in less than 30 minutes.
- Eat some of your favorite foods, some of the time.
- Plant a garden or a pot with some favorite vegetables and herbs.
- Don’t spend money unnecessarily on supplements or trendy foods.
- Avoid “junk nutrition”; look for reliable sources, e.g. registered dietitian.
- Move more; take the stairs, walk around the office or home.
- Exercise daily at least 30 minutes.
- Weigh yourself regularly…
Busy with work, school, or family make it a challenge to incorporate healthy eating with daily tasks. Meal times have become displaced with work, causing many to dine-out and select food that do not disclose dietary information, minimizing our control over when, where, and what we eat. King and Joyce’s book, Too Busy to Diet covers short and concise topics from nutrition to super foods, from alcohol to sushi, and even tips on how to eat healthy when on the road, whether in an airport ,gas station or picking up a quick fast food meal. In an easy to navigate format you can maintain your current daily demands without risking your future health. For more information about the book go to: www.toobusytodietbook.com. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.