The American Diabetes Association just released new dietary guidelines for people with diabetes.

As a person with diabetes, the first thing to remember is these are guidelines, not a diet; you don't need to panic and immediately make multiple changes. Even this ADA blog about the new guidelines says “follow an eating plan that works for you.” But there are valuable new insights from the new guidelines that you should consider.

What the New Guidelines Say

The latest ADA recommendations say we should be eating nutrient dense foods and avoid processed foods that contain added sugar and salt. Here are just a few of the highlights from the new recommendations:

  • Stay away from sugary drinks, including regular soda, sports drinks, sweet tea and fruit punch. Concentrate on drinking water and low-calorie drinks instead.
  • Make your carbohydrates count! Eat non-starchy vegetables, beans, low-fat dairy, whole grains and fruit. Avoid pre-packaged, processed foods and focus on fresh foods instead.
  • Fill up on non-starchy vegetables and cut back on your portion size of other foods. Following the Create Your Plate method is helpful.
  • Include healthy fats and try to get most of your nutrients from foods over supplements. Use spices to flavor your foods in order to avoid added salt.

What I see as a benefit with the new guidelines is that they are no longer recommending a certain level of carbohydrate consumption. Individuality is finally being recognized; we’re all different and have different needs. While this is good, it does put more responsibility on the shoulders of the patient — in my opinion, where it belongs. It is up to each of us to determine what works for us. The best way to control your diabetes is to take an active role in determining which food plan will work best for you.