Preventing Dehydration for Diabetics

Challenge:

Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) have a big challenge teaching diabetics how to successfully manage their condition.  New diabetics face a dramatic lifestyle change and often times will participate in a diabetes management program to learn techniques for managing their condition and hopefully begin to build good habits.  One of these good habits is learning to stay as close to “optimally” hydrated as possible.  When blood glucose levels are higher the kidneys will use water in the body to try and flush excess glucose out through urine.  During the process the bodies’ hydration reserves are strained.  This is why some diabetics will experience dry mouth or dry eyes when their glucose levels are higher.  This is also why diabetics can more easily, and quickly, become dehydrated.  Remaining as close to optimally hydrated as possible makes it easier to manage glucose levels.  Ultimately it’s important for any health professional working with diabetics to help them form healthy hydration habits.

Solution:

blue AquaTally

Figure 1: AquaTally has an indicator ring and numbers on the container. To track hydration users simply turn the white indicator ring to line up with the numbers on the AquaTally. The numbers 0-8 can either represent cups (8oz) or refills (16 oz). Typically an individual will choose their “tracking scale” based on their hydration needs.

Diabetes management programs help participants learn the skills they need to manage multiple variables that affect their condition.  The relationship between nutrition, medication and hydration can be complicated.  A diabetes program doesn’t just provide information it also provides personalized coaching and problem solving.  Sarah Thompson DiPaolo is an RD and CDE who operates WNY nutrition.  Sarah recently worked with a group of 15 program participants to help them learn how to better manage their diabetes.  After completing the program the participants were given AquaTally hydration tracking cups (Figure 1).  Sarah says that “Helping participants be successful means teaching them to apply what they learn through the program in their daily lives.  It’s also important for participants to be able to maintain new habits after the program ends.”  The reason she likes AquaTally is that “It simplifies tracking daily hydration, which makes it easier to manage one variable.  Having a tool that can help participants apply what I’m teaching them is very helpful.”

Results:

Combining good information and coaching from a qualified expert, like an RD, with an assistive device, like AquaTally, gives patients a way to consistently apply what they’ve learned.  The combination also supports turning a new routine into a healthy long term habit.  After the participants had been using the AquaTally for several weeks they were asked what they thought:

I love the cup! I have found that when I use it I drink more water than I do using a regular cup and trying to remember how many cups I had today. Thank you again for buying them for us!”

“I have never been a cup and straw person, but I do love the Aqua Tally cup and have been using it since I got it. I like that the top stays on; I knocked it over in my car and it didn’t leak before I grabbed it. I always thought I could remember how much water I drank but since I’ve been drinking on a regular basis, that has been proven false!!! So, the Aqua Cup has been great for keeping track.”

Love the cup!!! Great way to let me know how much I am drinking.”

“Love Mine use it all the time, I have one here, and the new one is at home, and I use it all day long every day. I especially love the ability to do the count so I know how much I drink and what I have left.”

“I Love my Cup. I hate water but it is fun with the cup.”

 Often times after someone begins to use the AquaTally they’re surprised at how much less they are actually drinking vs. what they thought.  Raising awareness about actual intake is an important step in changing behavior.  Having the AquaTally reinforced what the participants learned throughout the program and made it easier to stay hydrated.

Acknowledgements:

AquaTally would like to thank the program participants and Sarah Thompson DiPaolo,  MS, RDN, CD-N, CDE, NCSF-CPT for introducing the AquaTally to her program.  For more information about WNY Nutrition please visit wnynutrition.com