Diabetes Management from a Personal & Professional Perspective
By John Lamberson of Nutrition Pair
I have always maintained that diabetes saved my life and helped me meet my wife, and colleague.
Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year after graduating college was tough, but in the end, it was a good thing. Diabetes encouraged and motivated me to change careers and return to school to obtain a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. It was in graduate school where I was lucky enough to meet my wife Angie, and little did we know that Nutrition Pair would become our life.
One of the driving forces for me to become a registered dietitian (RD) was based on how I was counseled after my diabetes diagnosis. Unfortunately, the entire experience was not a positive one.
The dietitian working with me was adamant about how I needed to avoid certain foods and reinforced how I would have to give up many of my favorites, including pizza and orange juice. I was determined to not let diabetes control me and have used my disease to benefit my life and the lives of others.
Similarly, Angie’s road to becoming an RD was based around helping others as well. Her specific interest in diabetes came later after working in public health and ultimately seeing my experience with the disease.
Through personal and professional experiences, we understand the added responsibility one must take on to live with and manage diabetes. We quell any concerns one might have, by looking at diabetes as a “family disease.” What we mean is that diabetes management can be heavily influenced by those supporting the person with diabetes. We see the “family” as not just the client’s household members, but also the support we provide as healthcare providers.
When we counsel, we provide knowledgeable and supportive information with tools the client can use that are personal to them and meets their specific needs. Doing this also helps us to develop an individualized meal plan tailored to their favorite foods, because as RDs, food is what draws us! We believe that finding ways to enjoy your favorite foods is paramount to living with and managing diabetes.
A trusted diabetes management tool we utilize to help clients maintain enjoyment with food is low calorie sweeteners (LCS), including sucralose, which is used in the original SPLENDA® Sweeteners. SPLENDA® Sweeteners are a game changer for diabetes meal planning.
We often get asked about the safety of low calorie sweeteners. We feel confident in using and recommending SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose), as we’ve reviewed the breadth of evidence behind it and note it has a well-documented safety profile backed by over 20 years of research. One of the most extensive review papers to date on sucralose also confirms that there are no safety concerns from extended daily use in various populations, including people with diabetes. What’s more, long-term, well-designed clinical studies also support the role of sucralose as a safe strategy to manage carbohydrate intake that does not impact blood sugar or insulin levels, which are important findings that we translate for use personally and professionally.
We use SPLENDA® Sweeteners in some of our personal recipes too. This time of year, we love to make summer oatmeal and SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener gives it a touch of sweetness without all the carbs and calories of sugar! SPLENDA® Sweeteners allow us to enjoy all foods together without raising my blood sugar levels, and helps me to monitor my total carbohydrate intake. I enjoy adding SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, along with cinnamon, berries and dried cranberries, to my oatmeal for a little extra sweetness and flavor.
A second tool that allows us to extend our support in diabetes management is through an exciting trend in healthcare, and that is telehealth.
Consistent counseling that offers face-to-face communication is so important when working with clients who are managing their diabetes. We’ve run into problems setting up meetings, or not being able to visually see their meals and food choices. This is especially true because we are in a rural setting and some of our clients need to drive over an hour to our office. Additionally, some of our elderly clients have a difficult time traveling. To help alleviate those barriers, we use Healthie, a telehealth system, to further extend our services and support in diabetes management.
To effectively counsel for diabetes management via telehealth, here are 3 critical tips we would recommend:
- Establish Rapport
When meeting in-person is a challenge, telehealth provides a great replacement option with live video capabilities. This allows us to establish a rapport right at the initial meeting even if conducted virtually. With telehealth, we broaden our reach, helping even more clients manage their diabetes at their convenience. We also have clients share their blood glucose levels with us directly through our secured telehealth platform so we can make the appropriate dietary adjustments.
- Be Present and Mindful to Help with Active Listening Skills
Telehealth sessions can also be conducted via just audio. If that’s preferred, we do encourage clients to be in a quiet environment free from distractions. A great tip for these types of counseling sessions is to be present and focus closely on how a client answers your question. This type of approach demands that the dietitian develop their listening skills. If you cannot see the client, you cannot rely on body language and energy level as counseling ques. Remember to not only listen to what is being said, but also to how it is being said. Picking up on changes in speed of response, energy level of response and tone of voice can provide clues on how your client is really doing. Avoiding disruptions and using active listening skills are important during video sessions as well.
- Document Sharing
Telehealth gives you the ability to extend your educational tools seamlessly through document sharing. To help us illustrate our point, Healthie has a screen share feature. Clients can easily upload photos of their meals or share laboratory work. We like to utilize the SPLENDA® professional site for current diabetes management practices, as well as source education materials for our clients. Some resource we are currently using with clients include Nutrition Tips for Diabetes and recipes.
As healthcare providers, we highly recommend referring to the SPLENDA® professional site for client education resources when conducting a telehealth session for diabetes management. To learn more on how the SPLENDA® Brand can help support your clients in controlling their blood sugar levels and with weight management, request your free SPLENDA® Professionals Toolkit. You’ll receive samples, valuable coupons, recipes, along with health and safety information.
Remember, diabetes management is not a “one size fits all” approach. Meeting your clients where they are – literally, via telehealth and finding out how to adjust their dietary choices so they can reach their goals are important in achieving a balanced and successful diabetes management plan!
Nutrition Pair™ has partnered with the SPLENDA® Brand for this blog post and have been compensated. However, the opinions expressed are our own and we have not been paid to publish any positive comments.
Angie and John Lamberson are a married couple of Registered Dietitians, Certified Diabetes Educators, and Certified Integrative Health Coaches. They are co-owners of Nutrition Pair, LLC visit them at NutritionPair.com.