The new nutrition label: What does it mean for people with diabetes?

Kirk Coverston, MD

 

By July 2018, food manufacturers will be required to update their nutrition labels.  These changes may help the person with diabetes or pre-diabetes make better choices when purchasing food.

Servings per container and serving size will appear in bigger print. It’s important to note your serving size as that is what the carbohydrate grams on the label is based on. If a product has more than 1 serving, two columns will appear on the label, one for 1 serving and one for the entire package. Total calories will be bolded and enlarged as these are important for patients who are trying to lose weight.

Carbohydrates are still important to monitor for people with diabetes, with the goal to keep carbohydrates less than 45 grams per meal. Under carbohydrates, sugars will change to total sugars.  Total sugar includes both the natural sugars in the food as well as added sugars (sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, other syrups and concentrated fruit or vegetables juices). 
The added sugar grams per serving figure is a benefit to people with diabetes because the more added sugar in an item, the more that food can affect blood sugars.

For instance, Americans on average eat approximately 270 calories from added sugars daily (13 percent of our total calories, which is equivalent to 17 teaspoons of sugar!).

What is our goal for added sugars daily? No more than 10 percent of your total calories.  (If you are eating a 1500-calorie diet, the added sugars should be less than 150 grams).  If your blood sugars are not controlled, or you are trying to lose weight, the added sugars should be less.

Research shows that increased amounts of added sugars may contribute to increased body weight and/or increased risk of developing or a faster progression of Type 2 diabetes.   Increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease and high triglycerides may also occur from consuming increased “added sugars.”

Read your labels and choose the best product to use in your meal planning.  Limit the carbohydrates to less than 45 grams per meal (or less than 30 grams if trying to lose weight).  Control your portions by eating more vegetables and not going longer than 4 hours without eating a snack.

And don’t forget!!!  It is not all about your food intake.  You do have to be active every day – no days off!  Spring is here so get out and walk early morning or evening.

 

Susan Smith, Ph.D., CDE, is a nationally Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a specialist in the field of diabetes since 1988. Since 2002 she has worked with patients individually through all of the internal medicine and family practice providers at Visalia Medical Clinic.
ssmith@vmchealth.com