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New Diabetes Standards Emphasize Personal Approach Over Diets

A new position statement by the American Diabetes Association de-emphasizes “diets” for people with diabetes; instead, it focuses on individualized eating plans and regular activity.

While ADA advocates nutrition therapy as part of a diabetes treatment plan, the white paper, published October 9 in Diabetes Care (2013; doi: 10.2337/dc13- 2042), is clear on the point that no single eating pattern covers all people.

Replacing nutrition-therapy recommendations published in 2008 for the management of adults with diabetes, the 2013 statement provides a set of recommendations based on review of recent scientific evidence. It calls for all adults diagnosed with diabetes to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods in appropriate portion sizes. This would be done as part of an eating plan that takes into account individual preferences, culture, religious beliefs, traditions and metabolic goals. The report includes a new section on eating patterns, underscoring ADA’s stance that people eat food—not just single nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fat.

“Just because you have been diagnosed with diabetes does not mean you can no longer enjoy the foods you love or your cultural traditions,” said Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, coordinator of diabetes education programs at the University of Washington Medical Center, Diabetes Care Center. “Ideally the person with diabetes should be referred to a registered dietitian or participate in a diabetes self-management education program, soon after diagnosis. An important goal of nutrition therapy for adults with diabetes includes the collaborative development of an individualized eating plan with ongoing support to promote health behavior change.”

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