How to Find and Work with a Dietitian
You may have heard the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” This simply means that seeing someone through to independence will usually require the help of lots of people. And it doesn’t just apply to kids. Research has proven that having access to a trained team of medical professionals (such as doctors, nurses and diabetes educators), may greatly improve both short- and long-term health issues related to diabetes. Lowering A1C numbers and boosting overall compliance to healthy diet and exercise plan are just some of the benefits of this team work. Add a dietitian to the group and you have quite a powerhouse team.
Why do I need a dietitian?
The key to managing diabetes successfully is finding the right way to balance diet, exercise and medications for proper blood sugar control. That is why it is especially important for you to get the knowledge and help you need —and a dietitian is a key resource. Even though you may not think you need a dietitian, some of the benefits of their assistance include:
- Extensive knowledge about how food affects your blood sugar
- Proper development of a long-term eating plan that allows you to eat foods you enjoy and still keep your blood sugar under control
- Insight on how to adjust your diet based on your health or lifestyle needs
- Other dietary information on portion sizes, recipes and cooking tips, and ways you can reduce your risk for complications like heart disease or high blood pressure
What questions should I ask my dietitian?
When you see your dietitian for the first time, it is perfectly fine to bring along a list of your most pressing questions. More than likely, he or she will answer all of them during the normal flow of your visit, but if not, make sure to get clarification on anything that you are unsure about. Here are some questions you may want to consider:
- What types of foods should I eat each day?
- How much of these foods can I have and can you show me a proper portion size?
- How many carbohydrates can I have at each meal or during the day? Can you teach me to count carbohydrates correctly?
- How should I adjust my meals and carbohydrates for exercise?
- How do I read food labels?
- How can I adjust what I eat to adapt to my special diet (vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, etc.)?
- Can you give me specific recipes or meal examples I can follow?
- I have a rechargeable insulin pump — should I be managing meals or food differently because of it?
Where can I find a dietitian?
In many cases, your doctor may have a dietitian on staff already. Sometimes your diabetes educator is a registered dietitian and will be able to fill both roles. If your doctor doesn’t have a dietitian on staff, ask them for a referral. They can schedule an appointment for you or you can contact them directly to set up a time to meet. If you would like to do your own research, you can search the American Dietetics website. If possible, make sure you are working with a registered dietitian (RD) to get the most detailed information and support.
Article by Layla Davis