Diabetes is one the most prevalent chronic diseases in the world. According to the World Health Organization (2020), more than 420 million people are living with diabetes today, and this number is bound to rise as more and more people develop prediabetes. As a complex condition, managing diabetes involves a holistic approach that integrates medication as necessary, physical activity, diet modification, and preventive care. Creating an appropriate diet, in particular, is a cornerstone of caring for people with diabetes. However, it must be noted that while there are general guidelines on the appropriate diet for diabetics, there are also factors unique to each person that must be taken into consideration, as this essay will discuss in the succeeding sections. Planning nutritious meals for a diabetic should take a person-centered approach that involves conduction of comprehensive health education and assessment, consideration of personal preferences and culture, and collaboration with the patient in the creation of a diet plan.
The first step in planning nutritious meals for a person with diabetes is conducting comprehensive health assessment and education. The nutritional and overall health status of a diabetic may be different from that of others with the same condition. Hence, it is important to know the current status of the patient and determine the goals of creating a diet plan through a thorough health assessment. Furthermore, it is necessary to educate the patient about his or her status, the purpose of the diet plan, and the ways to make more appropriate dietary choices. Through education, the patient understands not only the role of proper nutrition in managing the condition but also how proper nutrition can be achieved. For example, patients who are known to smoke should be informed that among the health effects of smoking is decrease in the capacity to absorb nutrients. Indeed, people who smoke have lower overall nutritional status than smokers (Gariball and Foster, 2009), and it is reasonable to assume that smoking is even more detrimental to people living with diabetes. In such cases, planning the patient’s diet needs to take into account the effects of smoking on the individual’s health.
The second step is considering personal preferences and culture. Diet is both a personal and a cultural matter. A person’s choice reflects personal taste as it does cultural aspects. For instance, certain cultures have dietary prescriptions that forbid the consumption of certain food items. When creating a diet plan, it is vital for the care provider to consider the patient’s personal taste and culture. For example, a number of religions have dietary restrictions: Jewish and Muslims do not consume pork and pork products while many Hindus and Buddhists are vegetarians (McCaffree, 2002). Such considerations aside, the care provider should also bear in mind that a meal plan should be in line with the general guidelines for a balanced and nutritious diet. The diet of a diabetic should be rich in fruits and vegetables, low in processed and added sugar, and include appropriate serving sizes for fats, meats, and dairy (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [NIDDK], n.d.). Considering personal preferences and cultural identity will help the patient follow the dietary regimen.
Finally, preparing nutritious a meal plan for a person with diabetes should actively involve the patient. Collaborating with the patient yields two significant benefits. First, it helps in making sure that meals are appropriate for the patient’s nutritional needs, are appetizing, and are in line with cultural considerations. Second, it allows the patient to learn how to create a diet plan. Promoting self-care is one of the goals of managing diabetes, and so the patient is encouraged to eventually learn how to prepare or contribute to the preparation of meals. Involving others such as family members and people who have close relationships with the patient is also advisable, as they may also help in maintaining adequate nutrition for the patient.
Health providers as well as families who care for a person with diabetes, however, must bear in mind that a nutritious diet is not the only approach to promoting health. It is equally important to consider other approaches and aspects of health. Taking care of mental health, for instance, may be considered as equally essential to promoting health. A person with diabetes cannot be reasonably expected to follow dietary prescriptions if the he or she is experiencing psychological stress.
A crucial part of managing diabetes is ensuring that the patient has a well-balanced diet appropriate for his or her nutritional needs. In preparing meals for a patient, it is important for the care provider to perform health assessment and education, consider personal taste and culture, and involve the patient in the planning and preparation of meals. Through these steps, the care provider ensures that the patient is consuming healthy meals without compromising certain aspects such as cultural prescriptions for eating. Moreover, it helps promote self-care in the patient by ensuring that he or she understands the need for a healthy diet and how to prepare healthy meals. Equally important is involving others in the process, so as to further boost the contribution of eating well in managing diabetes. Diabetes currently has no cure, but encouraging a healthy diet is one way of improving and maintaining health for those diagnosed with the condition.
Gariballa, S. & Forster, S. (2009). Effects of smoking on nutrition status and response to dietary supplements during acute illness. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 24(1), 84-90. doi: 10.1177/0884533608329441
McCaffree, J. (2002). Dietary restrictions of other religions. The Business of Dietetics, 102(7), 912. https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(02)90212-9/fulltext
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Diabetes diet, eating, & physical activity. NIDDK. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity#
World Health Organization. (2020). Diabetes. WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes