Where or how do I find out about the carbohydrate or calorie content of foods?
There are many publications giving this information which are available in newsagents and bookshops. If you have access to the internet then a search will give you a great number of options. If you do not have access to the internet, your local library or Diabetes UKCareline may be able to help.
Another source of information is the nutritional labels on the foods you buy. If you find food labels difficult to understand then your dietitian will be able to explain how to use this information.
The guidelines are based on what an average person may have when eating a balanced diet. They are not therefore suitable targets for everyone. Individual requirements vary according to weight and activity level.
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It must be noted that the figures are per 100 g of a food and each food choice should be taken in context of how much of it you eat and how often you eat it. No food needs to be excluded from an eating plan, but you should try and make sensible choices.
Many supermarkets have introduced labelling in traffic light colours (red, amber, green) to provide consumers with guidance on how healthy the food might be – green being the most healthy option.
I have just started tablets for my diabetes. Does this mean I can relax my diet?
You have been started on tablets for your diabetes because diet alone has not been enough to keep your blood glucose at a desirable level. Tablets are not a substitute for your diet but are an additional help, so it is very important that you maintain your efforts with your diet and with exercise. If you relax your diet then your blood glucose will be more difficult to control and your medication may have to be increased prematurely in order to counteract your relaxed diet. This may also lead to weight gain. If it has been a while since you have seen a dietitian, it may help to make an appointment to review your food plan, now that you are on tablets, to discuss any other changes that you could make.
How does a person with diabetes get an appointment with a dietitian? Will there be one at my doctor’s?
As diet plays a crucial part in the management of diabetes, it is important that you get sound expert dietary advice from a State Registered Dietitian. This is part of the recommended standard of care as detailed in the Diabetes UK booklet What diabetes care to expect.
The availability of dietitians varies across the country but most diabetes centres have a dietitian as part of their diabetes team. If you attend a hospital diabetes centre then you should be able to make an appointment with the dietitian. There are an increasing number of GP practices running local diabetes clinics and they should be able to arrange an appointment with a dietitian as part of your diabetes care.