Food for Thought
The American Diabetes Association has some advice for you: the organization’s latest 2006–2007 Nutrition Recommendations: Issues for Practice Translation encourages all health professionals to take some simple yet practical steps to help clients lessen their risk of diabetes. The recommendations, which appeared in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, focus on ways to prevent and control the disease through lifestyle and nutrition changes.
Long-term lifestyle interventions recommended in the new guidelines include
- losing weight by reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity;
- increasing intake of “functional foods” to improve overall health;
- consuming—on a daily basis—the number of grams (g) of dietary fiber (14 g per 1,000 kilocalories) recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through foods that contain whole grains;
- getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day (150 minutes per week);
- eating a minimum of 130 g per day of carbohydrates, at least half of them from whole grains and the rest from fruits and vegetables;
- restricting dietary saturated fatty acids to 7% of daily energy intake and keeping trans fat consumption to a minimum;
- eating two fish meals per week;
- reducing sugar and salt levels in meals; and
- avoiding excessive alcohol intake.
According to a companion article in the same issue of the journal, health professionals have the potential to make a substantial contribution to reversing the current diabetes epidemic. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has developed a user-friendly toolkit to help these professionals implement the new recommendations in a real-world setting.
The toolkit—“Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes.”—provides learning materials to help professionals educate their clients. Among other items in the kit is a Food and Activity Tracker for recording daily food and beverage intake, daily weight and the amount of time spent each day on physical activity. There are also four-color, reproducible tip sheets that target different populations of clients, including Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans.
The toolkit can be accessed on the NDEP website at http://ndep.nih.gov/resources/ health.htm. You can also order the materials by calling the NDEP clearinghouse at (800) 438-5383. The first copy of the toolkit is free, while each additional copy costs $5, with a limit of 10 copies.