Eating Well with Diabetes
(How the Haitian "natif natal" can follow a Diabetic Diet)
Nicole Jean, RD, LDN

In the United States, March is National Nutrition Month, of which a particular day is set aside for Diabetes Awareness. In the Haitian-American community, the form of diabetes that is the most prevalent is called type 2. It results from an inability of one’s body to process many nutrients properly. One result is a high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This facilitates the development of many long-term complications, the major ones being heart disease, kidney disease and diabetic eye disease. Diabetes is a highly manageable disease but requires a lot of self-care, including watching one’s diet very carefully.

It is important that the person with diabetes meet with a Registered Dietitian (RD). A referral is usually made through the doctor or the health care facility. The RD will suggest a diet that conforms to one’s particular needs, and takes into consideration the personal food habits, the caloric needs, level of activity, medications taken…The discussion that follows centers on the general guidelines of the diet and in no way replaces a diet consultation.

 

Some Guidelines of the Diabetic diet are:

-Eating regular meals, which helps to prevent wide fluctuations of the blood glucose and is especially important when taking medications for the diabetes.

-Limiting the intake of Fat, Sugar and Salt, by using low fat milk, lean meat, by avoiding excessive use of oil, other fats, salty foods and sugary foods.

-Eating an adequate amount of Fiber, which helps regulate the blood glucose. Fiber is found in plant foods. It goes through the body undigested and does not raise the blood sugar.

-Eating from a variety of foods daily, to ensure exposure to all needed nutrients.

 

The Food Guide Pyramid is one basic tool that is often used to teach the diabetic diet.

People with diabetes may have different priorities when watching their food intake. For one person it may be to lower the blood glucose, for another to regulate the blood pressure and yet for another it may be to decrease the weight. Today, we establish as priority the control of the blood glucose.

The foods that we consume provide us with nutrients such as Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals and Water. Carbohydrates are the nutrient that affects the blood glucose the most. Therefore in diabetes, the intake of Carbohydrates must be restricted.

Some foods are good sources of Carbohydrates, (and therefore cause the blood sugar to go up!). They belong mostly to these three (3) sections of the Pyramid:

A dietitian would guide you as to the proper intake of Carbohydrates for you. As suggested on the Food Guide Pyramid and for most adults:

 

The intake of Milk is restricted to 2-3 servings daily.

1 serving of Milk could be: