WRITTEN BY: Mariana Gómez
There is no single approach or nutritional treatment for people with diabetes (any type) or prediabetes. There are different nutritional diet options for different people, and they depend on a number of variables and teamwork with healthcare professionals. Food is one of the essential pillars for the care of our health in general, and there is more talk about glycemic management.
Earlier this year the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published a Consensus on Nutrition Therapy, and presented the major findings at this year’s 79th Scientific Sessions. Although this information is aimed at healthcare professionals, we want to share some of the most interesting points so that, if necessary, you can discuss it with your team to choose the best plan for you.
- The specialist in charge : The ADA recommends that a registered dietitian or nutritionist is the best specialist to carry out any diet recommendations. It is suggested, of course, that these specialists are also Certified Diabetes Educators, although it is not a mandatory certification.
- The objective: The objectives of any nutritional diet change must be personalized. Each will have different requirements for different nutrients. The evidence makes us see that there is no fixed and ideal percentage of nutrients for people with diabetes or prediabetes but that a plan should be created taking into account the requirements and also, the preferences of the person. One of the objectives in the development of any plan will naturally be the management or control of body weight, but glycemic management remains the highest priority.
- Considerations for carbohydrate intake: You have probably been told that the previous recommendation of the American Diabetes Association was 130g/day of carbohydrates in people with diabetes older than 19 years of age. Today we find other nutritional approaches, and in this consensus, the benefits of many of them are detailed. Once again, the importance of creating personalized plans is highlighted. These 130 grams in some people will be sufficient but in other populations may be reduced while others may be eliminated.
Use of Sweeteners + Alcohol Consumption
It is suggested to replace sugary drinks with sweeteners in things like tea instead. However, consumption should be limited. With alcohol, moderation is the secret: one drink a day for women and two or less for men. Diabetes education should be provided and must include extensive training on hypoglycemia, and the importance of glucose monitoring in cases of consuming alcoholic beverages.
This consensus also includes specific data for nutritional intervention in cases of complications such as gastroparesis. The American Diabetes Association places great emphasis, as do we, on teamwork and multidisciplinary management of all types of diabetes. A medical specialist should have the ability to refer you to a nutrition expert with whom you can work on customizing your meal plan.