Special Dietary Needs
When to See a Dietitian
Eating right can be confusing. It may be hard enough to learn the guidelines for diabetes meal planning. But what if you have to also restrict the amount of sodium, protein, or potassium in your diet due to other health concerns? Your head may start spinning.
This is when to turn to your dietitian, the nutrition expert on your diabetes team. He or she can answer all your questions. You may be given a meal plan that combines all of your diet restrictions. You will learn to plan meals and snacks as well as select and prepare foods that fit into your diet. This takes the guesswork out of meal planning and helps you maintain your health.
You may know that nutrition is a key to blood sugar control. Nutrition also helps you manage other health problems. Whether you have high blood pressure, high blood fats, kidney disease, or other health problems, your diet plays a role. Here's a review of how diet helps some of these problems.
High blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and some organs in the body. This in turn will increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, eye disease and kidney failure. Diet helps lower blood pressure. These areas are most important to focus on:
- Lose weight (even 10-20 pounds helps)
- Limit sodium
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products
- Eat a diet low in fat
- Limit alcohol
High blood fats.
High levels of cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fats) can increase your risk of heart disease, or worsen existing heart disease. Your diet can help lower these levels. Your dietitian can help you learn ways to:
- Lose weight (even 10-20 pounds helps)
- Limit saturated fat and cholesterol
- Eat a diet high in fiber
A special diet is needed in kidney disease to control the buildup of waste products in the blood and to limit the workload of the kidneys. This diet may slow the loss of kidney function and help you feel better. If you are on dialysis (a machine or device that filters your blood), your diet helps to keep your body nourished and prevents fluid buildup. This special diet may include these limitations:
- Protein -Before dialysis, the diet limits protein. If you are on dialysis, protein needs increase but still need to be controlled.
- Phosphorus - Often a diet for kidney disease limits this mineral. In kidney disease, phosphorus can build up in your blood and take calcium from your bones.
- Sodium - Too much sodium can make you retain too much water. It can also raise blood pressure. For these reasons, a low sodium diet is helpful in kidney disease.
- Potassium - Advanced kidney disease can lead to high blood potassium levels. A high blood level of this mineral is a health risk. For this reason, a low potassium diet may be advised.
- Fluids - People with advanced kidney disease may need to limit fluids because they retain too much water.
- Calories - People with kidney disease need to eat enough calories to stay well nourished. Eating enough may be a challenge because of the poor appetite and nausea caused by kidney disease. Your dietitian will be able to help you design a meal plan that provides enough calories and nutrients for your needs.
Other health concerns.
While the above problems are common concerns in diabetes, there are many other reasons you may need to see a dietitian. Diet helps to manage many health problems and plays a role in staying healthy. It helps to meet with a dietitian for any of these problems or concerns:
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Weight concerns, such as being underweight, overweight, or not growing normally
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney stones
- Strict Vegetarian
- Serious athlete
- Eating Disorders
Your diabetes team includes a dietitian. If you need special dietary advice, ask your doctor for a referral to your dietitian.
This is the end of Healthy Diet, now Continue on to Guide to Predictable Blood Sugars