symptoms and progression of type 2 diabetes and its frequent precursor,
prediabetes. But the problem is that there's a lot of conflicting information
out there. Just what does healthy eating with type 2 diabetes really mean? No
sweets? Scheduled snacks? Low-fat, low-carb -- or neither?
To help guide you, WebMD turned to Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE. She's been a
dietitian and diabetes educator for almost 30 years, and is the author of
numerous books on the subject, including Diabetes Meal Planning Made
Easy, published by the American Diabetes Association.
How does a healthy eating plan for someone with type 2 diabetes differ from what everyone else should be eating?
It doesn't. The nutrition recommendations from the American Diabetes
Association echo the healthy eating guidelines for the general public. Everyone
should be eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and less saturated
and trans fat. Remember that the type of fat matters to your heart and blood
vessels. We've moved away from recommending a strict low-fat diet and shifted
toward an eating plan that allows for a moderate amount of fat, provided you
choose healthier fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
If you have diabetes and are trying to lose weight, don't take the drastic
diet approach, like a low-carb diet. It might help you lose weight in the
short-term, but there's not good evidence that it will help you keep it off.
Here's my point: You're going to have diabetes for the rest of your life. You
need to be thinking about minor doable changes in your eating habits that you
can really maintain. Even small steps towards healthier eating result in big
rewards, like lower blood glucose and improved blood pressure and lipids.
You also don't need a special diet to tell you how to eat healthy. Most
people -- especially people reading WebMD -- already know. The big challenge is
actually doing it day after day, year after year.
What is the connection between diabetes and heart and blood vessel diseases?
The connection is huge. It is said that diabetes is a cardiovascular
disease. But lots of people haven't realized it yet. They worry more about
diabetes affecting their eyesight and kidneys. Yes, that can happen. But the
fact is that people with diabetes suffer and die much more from heart and blood
vessel disease. That's the real issue.
This is the key reason there's been a big change in the focus of diabetes
management. It's no longer just about glucose control. It's at least -- if not
more -- important for people to focus on controlling blood pressure and blood
lipids, particularly LDL cholesterol. By the time someone gets diagnosed with
diabetes, he or she may have already been living with serious risk factors for
heart and blood vessel disease for years.