Working with a dietitian can be extremely useful in creating a meal plan that helps a person with type 1 diabetes meet their individual nutrition goals and is varied and appealing enough that it won’t get boring. Simply put, the best meal plan in the world is only helpful if it’s being followed.
It’s a good idea to go to a Registered Dietitian (RD), who is a health care professional specially trained to advise people about meal planning, nutrition, and weight control. And finding an RD who is also a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) is even better because that person will have additional training in diabetes management and can help with your care plan. If finding a qualified RD is a problem, get a referral from your primary care physician or endocrinologist. Check with your insurance company before going since nutritional counseling is not always covered, or may not be fully covered, depending on your policy. In that case, reach out to other members of the care team for healthy eating guidance and resources. And make full use of all the healthy eating resources on Cornerstones4Care®.
No matter who puts it together, a realistic meal plan should include some familiar favorite foods and fit within the schedule and lifestyle of the person with diabetes. There should be some flexibility built in so you (or the person with type 1 diabetes who you care for) don't get bored eating the same things all the time.
A good meal plan may help to:
- Reach individual blood sugar goals
- Achieve and keep a healthy weight
- Decrease the risk for some health problems
Dietitians are not mind readers! So you (or the person with diabetes you care for) have to let them know:
- What foods are completely unappetizing
- What foods cannot be given up
- What foods are family favorites (including ethnic and traditional foods)
And, the dietitian may also want to know about lifestyle considerations, including:
- Any special diets (vegetarian, for example)
- Level of physical activity
This is mostly about the person with type 1 diabetes, but family and caregiver routines need to be taken into account, too, especially if the caregiver is also the cook!
There are many approaches to managing a meal plan. You (or the person with diabetes you care for) may find it useful or necessary to count:
- Fat grams
- Carbohydrate grams
- Salt (sodium) milligrams
Talk with your dietitian and other members of your care team to find out which method—or methods—work best for you.
The Menu Planner Tool can help you create a plan based on the foods you (or the person with diabetes you care for) like best. It will even give you a personal shopping list based on the recipes chosen.