Just tell me what I can and can't eat.

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

Having diabetes can be frustrating, and sometimes you just wish that someone would just tell you what you can and can't eat.

There are, of course, plenty of people that will happily tell you exactly this Often at exactly the moment that an item is in your hand that you were particularly looking forwards to. Which somewhat takes away the joy,

But in reality it's difficult to give advice without understanding more about you as an individual. Here are some of things that a dietitian might ask you. Understanding them can help you to make your own decisions rather than relying on someone to tell you what to do,

What are your likes and dislikes?

I like plain biscuits with dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream, raspberries, salmon, roasted vegetables and crispy baked potatoes. I'm less keen on oversweet cakes, fancy ice creams, coffee, olives and broad beans. Chances are you dislike some of the things I like or hate some of the things I love. So there would be very little point in me advising you to eat salmon and roasted vegetables if you really didn't like either.

Spending a bit of time finding out about what you enjoy, and maybe what you're less keen on but would eat if it's going to benefit your health, is really worthwhile.

Your work life and the people around you.

What you eat is heavily influenced by the environment you live and work in and and the people around you. Anyone who has ever been doing really well with a healthy eating plan right up until the point when someone brings cakes into the office for their birthday or their partner turns up home with a takeaway has experienced this.

Other things the dietitian might want to know include whether you do your own cooking, or rely on someone else to shop and cook for you. It's also important to know if you are a crack cook or find it a challenge to boil an egg. Your hours, breaks and what facilities you have to heat up food, and sit and eat will affect what you can eat at work. Finding out these things can help make a plan that is practical for you.

Your hobbies and activity levels.

If you have very active hobbies or are very active at work, you may want to eat more foods that provide your body with energy, and eat when your body needs it most. If you are not able to be as active as you would like to be, your dietitian will help you choose foods you enjoy that provide all of the nutrients you need, but won't provide a lot of empty calories.

What is your medical history and what medications are you taking.

Your type of diabetes and the medication you are taking can affect what you should eat and when. Some diabetes medications require you to eat regularly during the day to avoid low blood glucose. An understanding of how your medication works with the food that you eat can give you with the confidence to discuss with your doctor whether it is right for you.

Other medical conditions and medications can also have an impact on your diet. Some conditions may require you to follow a restricted diet, and some medications may affect your appetite, or interact with certain foods.

Your dietitian can help you to work through conflicting advice that you may have received and find out what would work for you.

Would you like to lose some weight or maybe you struggle to keep weight on.

Most people, particularly those with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes will have been encouraged to lose some weight to improve their blood glucose control. Working with a dietitian to understand your diabetes and medication and the effect different foods have on your body, will give you the information you need to make your own choices about what to try.

But not everyone with diabetes, particularly Type 1 Diabetes, is overweight. If this is the case, you might have found that advice to cut out a lot of foods for your diabetes has resulted in unwanted weight loss. The dietitian can work with you to choose healthy foods that will help you maintain or regain weight.

What have you tried in the past?

What have you tried in the past that was successful and what has failed? Why do you think this was? Thinking about your previous attempts at healthy eating can help to understand what might work for you in the future.

What is your relationship with food?

It is not unusual for someone to use food to cope with life's difficulties such as stress or boredom, and even more understandable in a year like 2020. But if food helps you to cope with life, just trying to stop all of the foods you eat when you are down might not be a good route to success. The dietitian can help you think about other ways of dealing with stress, while you make changes one step at a time.

How an appointment with a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian will help.

As you can see a dietitian won't simply tell you what you can and can't eat, but will work with you to find a way to improve your health and diabetes control that fits around you and your life.

When you book an hour-long appointment with me, you will have more time to have all your questions about diet answered. I will also ask you about all the things that might affect your food choices such as likes and dislikes, medical history and medication, what your job and hobbies are. This will help me to support you to decide which changes to make that will fit in with your life and work for you.

I am currently offering Video Consultations allowing you to talk to me at a place and times that suits you. Appointments can be booked online from my website by clicking the book now button below, or click services for more information about what I offer.

What is a dietitian?

Diabetes Specialist Dietitians are experts in diet and diabetes. They complete a four-year dietetics degree with clinical placements before starting work in the NHS. They usually work for a period as a general dietitian, seeing patients with a range of different medical conditions before specialising in diabetes. Upon graduating I worked in general diabetes and weight management for 2 years, before working as a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian for the last 11.

Dietitians are trained to look at all the scientific evidence on science and lifestyle and, in partnership with our colleagues working in research, translate it into straight forward, practical advice that works. I am familiar with the different diet and lifestyle approaches for managing diabetes and can explain the benefits and drawbacks to help you make your own mind up about what you want to try.

If you have read all this and still want to find out about what is the healthy diet most commonly recommended by health professionals then I recommend taking a look at my blog on the Mediterranean diet.

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