Read the article, "Dietitian helps diabetics manage disease"
Everett Clinic dietitian and nutritionist, Jody Byrne, contributed:
“Knowing something and doing something are two different things,” said Jody Byrne, a dietitian at Everett Clinic. As a certified diabetes instructor, Byrne trains her patients to eat healthier, move more and cope with fear and stress. Think of her as a lifestyle coach for the insulin-impaired.
Byrne starts an appointment by asking about any anxiety a patient might feel. “I have Kleenex sitting on my desk,” she said. “It gets used, because they’re afraid.”
Patients with a family history of diabetes have seen the damage it can do.
“They’ve had relatives get kidney disease or lose legs. They’re pretty terrified,” Byrne said. “But I tell them, ‘You’re here, you’re doing something about it.’”
For newly diagnosed patients, the glucometer tops the list of concerns. This device measures blood sugar by pricking the skin to grab a sample of your cells.
“I let them handle the product, and they practice it in the air so they’re not startled by the click,” Byrne said. “Nine times out of 10, they have a look of relief on their face.”
“You can’t just do it for two weeks and then quit,” Byrne said. “This is not a diagnosis that’s going away in two weeks.”
Carbohydrates are the key culprit. They’ll spike your glucometer readings, and carb-heavy drinks often come with no nutritional value.
“I don’t have a forbidden food, but if I had to pick one it would be soda pop,” Byrne said.
Fiber can be your friend. “It slows down blood sugar spikes,” Byrne said. Try whole grains and beans.
Burning fat helps control blood sugar and improves overall health, but don’t judge your diet by pounds. Look instead at the glucometer. Blood sugar readings can reveal if you ate a healthier breakfast today than the day before.
“Be a detective with your meter,” Byrne said.
Beer and liquor? In moderation. “One drink per occasion for women and two for men,” Byrne said. “But I also remind people that it’s extra calories.”
Want to work off those extra calories? People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise at least four days a week. If you have limited mobility, be creative. Wellness is more than weightlifting and treadmills.
“Somebody might start with five minutes, walking to the mailbox and back,” Byrne said.
At the end of the session you’ll learn how to prepare for problems. What if your blood sugar is suddenly too low? Too high? What if your feet feel numb? You can cope.
Diabetes is a lifestyle, not a life sentence. The sweet thing about it is that you’re in control.