Diabetes is a timely topic for me, as my husband was diagnosed with diabetes last summer and my closest childhood friend developed gestational diabetes earlier this year. What is the world coming to? Indeed, our country is having an epidemic of high blood sugar, to the tune of 100 million Americans with diabetes or prediabetes. And so much of it simply goes back to our diets.
Along the same lines, the results of a survey I sent out to you and other practitioners came back with an emphatic request for patient education materials on carbohydrates. With sandwiches, chips, soda, fries, hamburgers, pizza, and cookies topping the charts for the American diet, it’s no wonder that we need to go back to square one with carbohydrates. How do we help patients understand that not all carbs are created equal? How do we help people make huge, earthshaking changes to their diets so that they have healthier blood sugar and metabolism?
A person that has to do a total overhaul of their diet needs serious hand-holding. I was dismayed when my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, given a prescription for Metformin, and told to avoid “white stuff” like sugar, bread, pasta, and potatoes. What could he possibly do with that guidance? Eating a diet that is blood-sugar-balanced takes so much more effort than avoiding some white stuff. And after a lifetime of eating sugar, bread, pasta, and potatoes, what else was there for him to eat, anyway? They didn’t even prescribe him a blood glucose monitor. If this is typical healthcare for a diabetic, it is no wonder that the numbers for diabetes and prediabetes keep surging.
My childhood girlfriend got more assistance from her obstetrician, likely because of the overriding concern for the unborn baby. She was immediately referred for a nutritional consultation where she was schooled in what her blood sugar targets should be, what times to eat, the number of carbs allowed per meal or snack, and advice to eat protein and/or fat with meals. She was still allowed to eat bread, pasta, sugar, or potatoes but was given guidelines to count her carbs. She was allowed to eat meat and vegetables to her heart’s content. She went on insulin one week later, when these dietary recommendations didn’t deliver a satisfactory fasting blood glucose. She has adjusted to the recommendations but had a tough time. At first, a life without refined carbs and sugar made her feel tired and angry.
It seems to me that the mainstream dietetic recommendations to regulate blood glucose with diet and medication miss the boat. Instead of wholly transforming the diabetic’s diet to be one of whole foods, proteins, fats, complex carbs, nuts, and seeds, they are meting out refined carbs that are still like poison to a diabetic’s system. Keeping them in the diet puts the patient on a slow and steady downward spiral to more medications, insulin, and a life sentence of diabetes. What if the diet was fundamentally reconstructed to help prevent this downward spiral?
There are likely a number of factors contributing to diabetes: genetics, diet, exercise, stress, toxicity, and more. Obesity itself, or excess fat tissue, can lead to a vicious cycle of insulin resistance. I see the diabetes epidemic as the culmination of (1) genetic predisposition to store fat for survival, (2) paired with a lifestyle dripping in sugar and refined carbohydrates, (3) a food pyramid that puts “white stuff” on the bottom tier to be eaten generously, (4) a lack of exercise, (5) a heaping serving of stress, (6) ample amounts of alcohol, and (7) a cocktail of toxins that interfere in metabolism. Voila! It’s no wonder then, that one in ten people in the United States have diabetes.
In response to the overwhelming need for patient education materials covering carbohydrates and blood sugar, please enjoy this free patient education handout, “Feel and Look Better with Smart Carbs.” Download it for free, add your company logo, and teach your patients that not all carbs are created equal. Dietary changes are some of the hardest to make, but pack the biggest punch!
Put your clinic’s best face forward with this free, customizable patient education handout.
Covers these topics:
- Simple vs. complex carbs
- Diabetes and insulin resistance
- Blood tests
- Foods to avoid and those to eat
- A smart-carb diet is delicious
- Directs patient to consult with staff for more guidance
Cass Nelson-Dooley, MS, is a researcher, author, educator, and laboratory consultant. She studied medicinal plants in the rain forests of Panama as a Fulbright Scholar and then launched a career in science and natural medicine. Early on, she studied ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and drug discovery at the University of Georgia and AptoTec, Inc. She joined innovators at Metametrix Clinical Laboratory as a medical education consultant helping clinicians use integrative and functional laboratory results in clinical practice. She owns Health First Consulting, LLC, a medical communications company with the mission to improve human health using the written word. Ms. Nelson-Dooley is an oral microbiome expert and author of Heal Your Oral Microbiome. She was a contributing author in Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine and Case Studies in Integrative and Functional Medicine. She has published case studies, book chapters, and journal articles about the oral microbiome, natural medicine, nutrition, laboratory testing, obesity, and osteoporosis.