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Specific Diet Goals Best for Type 2 Diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Ohio State University study finds low glycemic diet goals help Type 2 diabetes.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes do better when they set specific diet goals, finds a new study. Ohio State University researchers say choosing a preset number of foods that have low-glycemic index, rather than telling diabetics to “do your best”, also cuts calories.

For the study, Type 2 diabetics were asked to eat either 6 or 8 servings of low-glycemic index foods that are slowly digested carbohydrates. Included in the study were thirty-five adults age 40 to 65 years with Type 2 diabetes whose HgA1c levels were 7.0 or greater.

Most of the participants reached 8 servings a day and were already eating six daily servings. Adding fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to the diet helped diabetics cut approximately 500 calories a day, the research found.

Carla Miller, associate professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study explains goal setting is frequently used by health-care providers to motivate patients.

Miller says, “But in this context it’s not just a matter of setting a goal. It’s deciding what specifically you are going to modify to help you achieve a more healthful diet.” She adds, “Telling people to ‘go out and do your best’ is not effective. It’s not specific enough, or targeted enough, or timely.”

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The researchers also say it takes confidence for people with Type 2 diabetes to meet dietary goals. Study participants with confidence were more committed to following low-glycemic foods index diet, which includes foods that have an index of 55 or less on a scale of 1 to 100.

Last year Miller published a study showing low glycemic foods helped study participants lose their weight, reduce body mass index and waist circumference and low their hemoglobin A1c levels, indicating better glucose control.

She also points out some experts think it’s easier for people with Type 2 diabetes to focus on limiting carbohydrates and sugar rather than the glycemic index of foods. Miller showed in a 2009 study that isn’t the case with proper nutritional counseling.

The new study shows setting specific goals for eating foods that are digested slowly helps blood sugar control for Type 2 diabetes. Miller says there is enough evidence to recommend that diabetics follow a low glycemic index diet. The authors concluded, “Clinicians should help clients set specific goals regarding dietary change.”

Patient Education and Counseling
“Goal difficulty and goal commitment affect adoption of a lower glycemic index diet in adults with type 2 diabetes”
Carla K. Miller et al.
January, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile