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Diabetes: Nutrition

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Normally, our bodies break down the food we eat into sugars, or glucose, which is a necessary nutrient for our cells. When you have diabetes, the glucose doesn’t move into your cells as quickly, causing a backup of sugar in the blood, commonly known as high blood sugar. To manage your blood sugar levels, it’s important to understand which foods will raise your levels and to spread them out throughout the day to avoid a spike.

Taking steps to treat or manage diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation; it just means eating a balanced diet. The biggest difference in a diabetic’s eating plan and a healthy diet for non-diabetics is that you need to pay more attention to some of your food choices—most notably the carbohydrates you eat such as starches, fruits and milk products. The body needs carbohydrates as an energy source, but they turn completely into glucose and can spike your blood sugar if they aren’t spread out. Vegetables, meat and fat have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels and should be part of your daily intake.

Food labels are an extremely important tool when managing diabetes. The very first thing you should look at is the serving size, as serving sizes vary greatly among different foods. The serving size serves as your reference point when reviewing the rest of the nutritional information on the label. For carbohydrates, it helps to consider a serving size as about fifteen grams, and decide from there how well the food will fit in your nutritional plan. The team of registered dieticians and diabetes educators at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center is dedicated to educating diabetic patients throughout the community how to manage their disease through proper diet and exercise.

Spokesperson Background:

Beverly Paddock is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Paddock received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Georgia in 1979. She became a registered dietician through a work-study program in Florida in 1982 and became a certified diabetes educator in 1983.