Diabetes Management

There are elaborate nutrition goals for people who develop type 2 diabetes.1 To most health care professionals, the nutrition goals are couched in language that is difficult to convey and be understood by patients. This Nutrition Tidbit will outline some simple nutrition concepts for normalizing blood sugar that can assist you in coaching your patients with type 2 diabetes to make a dramatic difference in their eating lives.

There is a strong correlation between the amount of carbohydrate eaten at a meal and blood sugar excursion after the meal. Human cells depend on glucose for most of their energy needs. That is why there are such intricate mechanisms in place to make sure glucose levels in the blood stream do not get too high or too low. Without the medical condition of diabetes, there is little need to put much thought into what is eaten because the body can manipulate nutrients to be sure ample glucose is available for cells. However, if type 2 diabetes enters the life of a patient, a conscious effort must be made by the patient to help maintain healthy blood sugars. Yes, there are several very helpful medications that help to modulate blood sugars, but no medication can begin to do the job that the body’s own mechanisms did originally. So, what can a health professional do to help a person improve their blood sugars through diet? At the very least, have your patient fill out a 24-hour food log.

  • Avoid consuming large amounts of starches, even healthy ones, at a meal or snack! I did NOT say avoid starches, what I mean is that starches need to be eaten in moderation rather than a little starch one meal and a lot the next. Why? Starches do eventually become glucose and an onslaught of glucose, anyway you cut it, will raise blood glucose. This uneven nutrient supply causes the glucose moderating system major problems that could be avoided if carbohydrates were consumed in a regulated fashion.
  • Eat healthy fats. Eat more mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These are richest in fish, nuts, oils and soy products. Limit saturated and trans-fatty acids. Saturated fats are found primarily in processed foods like margarine, shortening, pre-prepared dinners and animal fats like beef, dairy and pork. Read the food label for the most accurate information.
  • Refer your patient to a certified diabetes educator. Why? Type 2 diabetes is a serious CHRONIC illness and this expert can help educate, fine-tune and coordinate all of the diabetes management pieces including diet, medications, blood glucose testing, exercise and self-care.
  • For more information on diabetes, try the following resources:


    1. American Diabetes Association. Nutrition principles and recommendations in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:S36-46.