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Jul 28, 2016

Healthy Living Looks at Diabetic Dieting

Any person who has been diagnosed with diabetes knows that what they eat is one of the most critical steps in managing their condition. The diabetes diet may seem very restrictive; but, that isn’t necessarily the case. As I find out in tonight’s healthy living, it’s about the right types of food at the right time.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Doris Sutherland is a licensed nutritionist at Belize Healthcare Partners. She specializes in treating patients with kidney failure related to nutrition. She says up to ninety percent of her current patients are diabetic or pre-diabetic.


Doris Sutherland, Licensed Nutritionist

“The diet is very important in the patient with diabetes for the same reason that diabetes that has no treatment the only way the patient can control their blood sugar levels is by taking medication or insulin or following a low carbohydrate diet. I like to treat the pre-diabetic like they have diabetes cause that’s the only way we try to avoid them having high blood sugar levels.”

For diabetics and pre-diabetics, proper food choices are synonymous with the management of their condition. The challenge is that this process of learning to choose foods that are better for the body is often sidetracked by misinformation and buying into gimmicks.


Doris Sutherland

Doris Sutherland

“One of the common misconceptions for example skipping a meal to lower sugar level or by taking insulin or administering more insulin or more consuming doses of medications they can control blood sugar levels. However,  It is very important to have an even distribution of complex carbohydrates during the day, specifically the time since some patients wake up with sugar levels or have higher sugar levels when they wake up; or vice versa. It could happen during the day during the night. The time of the day is very important.”


Another common mistake she finds, is that patients, in wanting to get healthier tend to eliminate entire food groups – like carbohydrates or starches.


Doris Sutherland

“Most doctors would recommend for example, don’t eat potatoes or flour however, it mostly the type and the way its prepared is how the patient is going to control the blood sugar level and also the amount. Starches are the main form of energy for any patient with or without diabetes. Which is why it is an important source of food. It’s a matter of the amount that the patients consume. The simple carbohydrates are the ones who tend to elevate your blood sugar the most. These can be found in for example white bread, in honey, some fruits but not all, and also in table sugar and products that are made from table sugar specially bottle beverages, cakes and other types of pastries. Increase the complex carbohydrates. These are the ones that have a lot of fiber and help reduce blood sugar levels. We find complex carbohydrates in vegetables, in oatmeal, in wheat grains and other sources of brown cereals. Eliminating the food group all together can cause very low blood sugars, very low blood sugars lets say below 70 can be fatal for many patients.”


Portion control is also important when adding these food groups to the diet. Another practice Doris finds to be common in her patients is self treating with herbs and supplements.


Doris Sutherland

“There are many supplements and herbal products that people want to take in order to lower blood sugar levels for example there is the supplement call glucerna that many people that are diagnosed with diabetes take this supplement one or two times during the day however, these are not recommended for any patient that have diabetes. These need medical prescription and they also need monitoring throughout the whole treatment. Normally, the glucerna is only indicated in patients that have problem with chewing or swallowing or patients that have very low weight for height and they require some more energy.”


Doris says there is one food group that she wishes people would include more of in their diet.


Doris Sutherland

“Belize in general, diabetics and non diabetics, have a very low consumption when it comes to foods with fruits and vegetables especially. When it comes to vegetables, these have a very high content of fiber which can help regulate blood sugar and it will not only help prevent diabetes to another multitude of other diseases.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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