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3 principles for managing Type 2 diabetes

By Emily Fonnesbeck, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Jan. 29, 2020 at 2:31 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — For about five years I saw patients at an internal medicine office. The majority of patients I saw had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. While each patient was unique in their experiences, concerns and goals, I found a lot of commonalities.

Based on my observations, here are some gentle nutrition principles that could have a big impact on managing Type 2 diabetes:

Food isn’t the only thing that affects your blood glucose

It’s easy to assume that food is the only factor in abnormal blood glucose levels, but there are quite a few other things that affect it. Sleep, stress, exercise, mental health concerns, medications, meal/snack timing, eating patterns and digestive function are other contributors.

While food will be a factor, it’s important not to overemphasize its effect while losing sight of other physiological functions and lifestyle factors. There are a lot of layers to your overall self-care.

Your body thrives on rhythm

We are cyclical, rhythmic creatures. We have sleep rhythms, digestive rhythms, hormonal rhythms, etc. Your body likes predictability and rhythm. While you don’t need anything militant or rigid (which actually doesn’t have a positive impact on your physical or mental health), having a certain amount of flexible structure will help your blood sugar levels find their natural rhythm (instead of drastic, extreme changes during the day).

Here are some basic suggestions for establishing a flexible structure:

  • Include 3-5 food groups at meals and 1-3 food groups at snacks.
  • A snack will likely keep you going for 1-2 hours, while a meal will keep you full and satisfied for 3-4 hours.
  • Honor your hunger cues and respect your fullness cues to identify how much to eat at meals and snacks.

So, if you eat breakfast at 8 a.m., you’ll likely need something to eat around 11 a.m. or noon. If lunch isn’t going to be until 1 p.m., you’ll want to plan a snack, and so on throughout the day. This flexible structure can help you anticipate your needs and plan accordingly, which will go far in stabilizing your blood sugar levels.

You can eat carbohydrates

Those diagnosed with diabetes often believe they can’t eat carbohydrates, which isn’t true. Your body and brain still need carbohydrates and energy; that doesn’t change.

I would encourage you to spread carbohydrates out evenly over the day and include them at meals and snacks with other food groups. Balance and variety are important nutrition principles for everyone

Diabetes, or any health concern, can be scary, confusing and frustrating. I hope these observations have been helpful in better understanding diabetes management.


Emily Fonnesbeck

About the Author: Emily Fonnesbeck

Emily is a Registered Dietitian and president of Emily Fonnesbeck Nutrition Consulting. Her nutrition passion lies in helping people make peace with food. Email: emily@emilyfonnesbeck.com

Editor’s Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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