By Kathy Rodgers, MA, RDN, LD, CDE
As a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for the past 16 years, I have worked with many people at different stages in their relationship with diabetes. No matter the length of time someone has been trying to manage their blood glucose, I hear two common myths over and over:
Myth 1: Carbohydrates are “bad” and should be avoided.
Truth: This Myth is false! There are many ways to approach healthy eating and diabetes management. For some, a low carbohydrate diet works well. For others, a balanced approach can be a better fit.
In fact, carbohydrates are an integral part of biological functioning. When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down to glucose, which is the primary energy source for our cells – and especially our brains. In fact, brain function can be compromised when a diet is too low in carbohydrates. For those who are aiming for a “balanced” diet, a typical carbohydrate goal is around 130 grams (this differs from person-to-person, based on size, activity level, and other factors). What that could look like is 1 cup of milk, 2 fruits (each about the size of a tennis ball), 3 cups of salad greens, 1 cup of cooked non-starchy vegetables, ½ cup of quinoa, and 1 cup of brown rice, consumed over the course of the day.
Perhaps more important than the amount of carbohydrate is the quality of carbohydrate. Try to aim for whole grains, rather than refined grain products, beans, legumes, and vegetables.
Myth 2: Exercise is only beneficial for diabetes if it is vigorous and lasts for a minimum of thirty minutes, three times a week.
Not true. Any physical movement helps lower blood sugar. Even standing for a few minutes , as opposed to sitting the whole time, can help lower your blood sugar. One of the most important studies ever published, the Diabetes Prevention Program trial, showed that just 20 minutes of walking a day can substantially lower the risk for diabetes. Several other studies show that even moderate amounts of movement can significantly improve blood sugar and diabetes. One study even showed that just getting up from our desks once every hour can improve blood sugar. So get out there and do something you enjoy…even if that means going for a gentle walk around the block after dinner. It all matters!
Come see me to talk more about how to optimize your blood glucose management.