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Answers from the BJC Experts

Ask the BJC Expert allows you to get the answers you need about a variety of health, medicine and exercise issues to help you live a more healthy life.

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The only diet I’ve ever had success with is Atkin’s. I remarked to my doctor that the Atkin’s diet must be similar to the diabetes diet, since both restrict carbohydrates. He said if I think they’re similar, I don’t know anything about Atkin’s! He’s probably right, but please explain. What are the differences? Is a diabetic diet healthy for people who aren’t diabetic?

A diabetic diet is healthy for people who aren't diabetic. When I educate patients on weight loss, I use the diabetic diet. A diabetic diet is a healthy diet for everyone. The Atkin's diet is on the other end of the spectrum — so to speak — compared to the diet that people with diabetes should follow.

Diabetics do not need to restrict carbohydrates. Actually, 50 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, whether you have diabetes are not. Carbohydrates are the body's preferred fuel source, so carbohydrates are needed in your diet. The key to a diabetic diet is to consume healthier carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products; and limit carbohydrates that are high in fat and sugar, such as chips, pies and cookies.

Also, people with diabetes need to space their carbohydrates throughout the day, eat about the same time and the same amount every day. This also works for weight control, as does not skipping meals and making healthier food choices.

Go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for more ideas and tips. The key to weight control is to focus on healthy eating, and that means including foods from all the food groups and watching portion size. Think of it as making healthier choices. Then add exercise, and work on making lifestyle and behavior changes, and you have the key to weight management.

Nutrition counseling services are available at several BJC facilities including:

BJC dietitians also can be located by calling Help For Your Health at 314.747.7234.

If you live outside the BJC HealthCare service area, you can find a nearby registered dietitian at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

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