After working in biomedical research for many years, Dione Milauskas decided to shift gears and find her true calling as a registered dietician nutritionist.
“I have always loved food, so I decided, ‘why not make this my career?’”
Around the same time she started working in the nutrition field, she was shocked to find that she was diagnosed with the triple threat of prediabetes, insulin resistance, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
“After being diagnosed with prediabetes, insulin resistance, and PCOS, I was given very little advice and told to cut out a bunch of carbs. I was also put on medication. I hated the way the meds made me feel, so I decided to reduce my numbers using diet and lifestyle changes instead,” Dione told mornings with moni.
Being a foodie, Dione knew she couldn’t give up carbs or live a “low carb life” and participate in restrictive diets. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out that she could still eat the carbs she wanted and reduce her numbers below the prediabetic range. Since then, Dione has used her expertise as a nutrition coach to help other women figure out how to pair food with healthy fats and protein and still lower their A1c and blood sugars.
Today, as a registered dietician and nutritionist, Dione hopes that sharing her personal health journey will inspire others to be in control of their lives and eat the foods they want without feeling guilty.
Through her virtual nutrition coaching sessions and resources on her prediabetes Instagram page, Dione shows clients how to still eat what they want while balancing their blood sugars and lowering their A1c levels.
Through her coaching program, she helps women lower their A1c and blood sugar and “eat carbs without confusion.” She believes in helping people eat the foods they want while understanding how to balance their blood sugars with a few lifestyle changes.
“I teach people how to enjoy carbs in combination with protein and fat so that they can enjoy their fav foods without a blood sugar spike. Most traditional approaches to lowering blood sugar and A1c involve restricting carbs, using the glycemic index, or counting carbs. In my experience, that doesn’t work for most people long term. So I created my method of lowering blood sugar, which doesn’t focus on counting or restricting.”
It’s estimated that approximately 88 million, or 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes, a health condition where blood sugar levels are elevated. While prediabetes is a warning sign of developing diabetes, many Americans are walking around not knowing they are at risk.
According to Dione, prediabetes essentially is a range of elevated glucose and/or A1c that isn’t quite high enough to be considered diabetes but is still elevated.
“It’s your body’s way of telling you that you are trending in the wrong direction and it’s time to make some changes and do something about it. A1c is just your average blood sugar from about the last 3 months,” says Dione.
According to the CDC, of those who have prediabetes, 84% of people don’t know they have it. Prediabetes can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, according to the CDC.
Dione’s advice to someone who is diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes is to “not freak out” and “focus on making small, yet impactful changes to your diet and lifestyle.” This could be something as simple as adding in more protein at dinner, which can do wonders for blood sugar, says Dione.
Currently, Dione offers group coaching and one-on-one coaching for clients who are struggling to lower their A1c levels and figure out what to eat to not spike their blood sugar.
“I teach them exactly how to eat for lower blood sugar using real-world examples, like fast food and grab-and-go snacks. I teach my clients how to make a blood sugar friendly plate so that they are confident in their food choice and never have to turn to Google for nutrition advice again,” says Dione.
For Dione, helping people lower their blood sugar has been extremely rewarding. It brings her so much joy when many of her clients tell her how freeing it is to be able to lower their A1c levels.
“My clients typically have a history of dieting and/or disordered eating. So after learning that they can reduce their numbers without dieting or restricting calories or carbs, it is very freeing and great for their mental health. Not only do they reduce their blood sugar, but they improve their overall relationship with food.”
Some of the challenges or misconceptions related to blood sugar or prediabetes can be daunting. Dione shows clients how they can still “eat their cake” but also manage healthy blood sugar levels by balancing meals and making small steps to bigger health goals. Instead of restricting one’s diet, Dione shows clients how to work around it and enjoy the food without spiking blood sugar.
“When we eliminate foods from our diet totally, it takes a toll on our mental health and usually leads to a disordered relationship with that same food. So my approach to lowering blood sugars involves eating all foods. I teach people how to balance carbs with protein, fat, and fiber so they can still eat carbs/sweets. This helps with balancing mental health with physical, as well as making it a more sustainable way of eating in the long term,” says Dione.
Many people are feeling the impact of COVID-19 in many ways. Dione has seen an increase in the number of inquiries from people diagnosed with prediabetes, particularly during the pandemic. “I think this is a combination of stress, gyms being closed, and lack of support from their health care team.”
Dione helps clients struggling with prediabetes or diabetes, and is always a proponent of helping people avoid guilt-tripping themselves when it comes to food choices.
“I always tell my clients that one candy bar will not make or break your blood sugar goals. It’s important to allow yourself to enjoy sweets without guilt. Guilt does not serve any positive purpose in our life or our relationship with our blood sugar. Sometimes it takes some deep work on yourself, but it is possible to eat sweets without it leading to a binge,” says Dione.
When she’s not helping others balance their blood sugar, Dione lives in Louisville, KY, where she enjoys cooking, going on walks, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family.
-Written by Monica Luhar for mornings with moni
Want to learn how to manage your blood sugar without restricting the foods you love? Sign up for Dione’s Blood Sugar Boss Program here. Visit her Instagram page @prediabetes.nutrition for tips on how to lower your A1C and other resources.