September 23, 2018
Robert R. Cawley, D.O.
Dover, NH 03802
By Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, CDE, Wentworth Health Partners Diabetes Services
Regardless if you were told your blood sugars are elevated 10 years ago or yesterday, changing your diet is the first step to improve your health. Meeting with a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes care is a great way to sort out the many options and decisions before you. These health professionals are trained to understand both diet and diabetes, and their primary goal is to help you!
Registered dietitians who specialize in diabetes care can help you understand ways you can lower your blood sugar, support you in trying new options, and help with communicating successes or concerns with your doctor.
“A dietitian and diabetes educator is more of a coach,” explains Marianne Evans-Ramsay, RD, CDE. “Many people don’t realize that these professionals are trained to develop an individualized plan, tailored to your needs. These sessions are focused and can answer nagging questions that you might have about your diabetes, blood sugar or your diet.”
Seeing a registered dietitian for management of your diabetes care was shown to help people lower blood sugar about 30 points or reduce A1C (the 3-month average blood sugar) up to two percentage points. The improvement in health by lifestyle change is impressive and it is equivalent to starting a new medication, according to a study published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy.
Since registered dietitians are proven to help with diabetes management, Medicare will pay for 10-hours of diabetes self-management training (DSMT) in the first year that you are diagnosed with diabetes. You also receive 3 hours of nutrition education during the initial year of diagnosis.
You can learn about diabetes online, from your doctor, or in books yet knowing about diabetes isn’t the same as having a clear plan of what to do. Physicians refer patient to registered dietitians and diabetes educators because they know that knowledge alone does not change behaviors. They know that figuring out what to eat is a more complicated process than most people realize. It takes time and support.
What is even more exciting is that meeting with a dietitian can also help with other medical concerns that people have. Most of my patients aren’t just working to lower their blood sugar but are hoping to find a sustainable life balance and address other issues like blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health. Rolling your diabetes care into how you care for your overall health is what a registered dietitian does best. They are trained to understand many health concerns and find a plan that is tailored to you.
At Wentworth-Health Partners patients have a number of options. You can meet with a registered dietitian privately or as part of a group class. We now offer to new classes - Eating Well with Diabetes and Food Choices for Diabetes. (See PDF flyer for more information.) We also offer a variety of community education programs.