How to Find a Diabetes Educator

From: Nancy M.
Date: 02/28/2010
Subject: diabetes education help

Q: I am trying to find a class for our grandson. He is 19 and has a part-time job but no insurance. He just found out last week that he is a type 1 diabetes after losing a lot of weight and his blood sugar was 523. He is on insulin but needs to go to a class to manage is diabetes without going hungry. Where do we start? Any suggestions would help us a lot.

A:  You have already taken the first step by acknowledging that you need help.  Diabetes education is an integral component of your grandson’s health care.  The next step is to actively search for a diabetes educator that best matches your grandson’s needs.  There are many specialists who focus on diabetes care for young adults, and many offer financial options for the uninsured.  Ask your grandson:

  • Does he prefer a group setting with peers going through a similar situation?
  • Or does he prefer one-on-one sessions with a health care professional?
  • Or does he want to primarily attend one-on-one sessions but have the option of going to a group session? (he can do both)

Once your grandson’s preferences are determined, you can begin your search for a diabetes educator.  How do you know if a health care provider is a diabetes specialist?  Most often they will have the credientials, “CDE,” after their name.  This stands for Certified Diabetes Educator, and means that the individual underwent specific educational and professional requirements to qualify for advanced specialty practice in diabetes education.

One of the first resources to check are your local hospitals.  Hospitals often provide education sessions free-of-charge for diabetics and may hold classes specifically for teenagers.   In addition, try calling the clinic where your grandson was first diagnosed to see if they have any suggestions.

There are also many web-based resources to help you find a diabetes educator.  Here are the most reliable ones:

(1) The websites The American Association of Diabetes Educators and allow you to locate a diabetes educator in your local area.  The search result will generate a list of names and you can visit each practitioner’s personal website to learn more about them.  Practitioners range from medical doctors to nurses, pharmacists, and registered dietitians.  From there, you can place a phone call to inquire about financial assistance for the uninsured.

(2) The American Dietetic Association allows you to search for a nearby registered dietitian.  Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts trained in healthy eating, meal planning, and weight management for diseased and non-diseased populations.  Nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian can provide your grandson with an individualized nutrition regiment that promotes long-term lifestyle changes to meet his health care needs without sacrificing his current lifestyle.  Dietitians may work as individual counselors or as part of a medical facility, and many offer special plans for the uninsured.  Visit the American Dietetic Association website and click the link, “Find a Registered Dietitian,” located in the menu bar.

But don’t do all of this work yourself!  Encourage your grandson to be proactive.  This is his disease, his health, and his life.  Instilling good habits in him now will help him to take control of his diabetes in the future.

Good luck!

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How Sweet It Is

From: Shirley S.
Date: 02/15/2010

Question: What is the best sugar substitute to use for baking and daily use for diabetics?

Answer: Here is some great news.  You can have your cake and eat it too. So why substitute sugar when you can use the real thing? According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic meal plans should be comprised of healthy, well-rounded foods. Similar to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, fats, oils,  and sweets should be consumed sparingly–but this does not mean eliminated.  Since baked goods are generally higher in fat and sugar, these should be limited to special occasions for every person. In which case, you can easily incorporate a slice of cake or a few cookies every now and then into your day.   The trick is to substitute other carbohydrate-containing foods with the baked good.   For example, opt for a salad with dinner instead of two to three servings of carbohydrate so you can enjoy that slice of birthday cake without jeopardizing your blood glucose levels.

As for your daily grind, non-nutritive sweetners approved by the FDA can be a safe way to control your diabetes when used appropriately.  The six approved sweeteners are acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet-One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, saccharin (Sweet’N Low), Stevia, and sucralose (Splenda).  These are generally recognized as safe when consumed in moderation (approximately 2-3 teaspoons = 2-3 packets per day).  Splenda receives much acclaim for its heat stability properties, so is generally the preferred sweetener for baking (and they have a handy website).

One tip for tastier results is to only substitute half of the real sugar in recipes with a sugar substitute.  This will improve  texture, color, and taste. But keep in mind that sugar is not the only source of carbohydrates, flours are large contributors.  So regardless if you use a sugar substitute or not, always watch your portion size! As for your tea or coffee, you can use which ever of the approved sweeteners  best suits your taste.   Here is a handy quick guide to help facilitate your decision.  Happy sweetening!

Sweetener Trade Name Substitution Equivalent Applications
Saccharin Sweet’N Low 1 packet = 2 tsp sugar
  • Beverages
  • Table-top Sweetener
Aspartame Equal, NutraSweet 1 packet = 2 tsp sugar
  • Beverages
  • Dairy Desserts
  • Many Foods
Neotame 1 packet = 2 tsp sugar
  • Beverages
  • Cakes
  • Cereals
  • Dairy Foods
Acelsulfame-K Sweet-One, Sunett 1 packet = 2 tsp sugar
  • Baked Foods
  • Beverages
  • Candies
  • Desserts
Sucralose Splenda 1/2 cup = 1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp = 1 tsp

  • Baked Foods
  • Beverages
  • Desserts
  • Table-top Sweetener
Stevia Stevia 1/4 tsp = 1 tsp
  • Baked Foods
  • Beverages
  • Desserts
  • Table-top Sweetener