FRIDAY, Feb. 17, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Specific goals can help people with type 2 diabetes improve their dietary habits, according to a new study.
Participants were given a goal to eat either six or eight daily servings of foods with a low glycemic index -- carbohydrates that are digested slowly and are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels than carbohydrates with a high glycemic index.
Most of the participants achieved the eight-serving goal, partly because many of them were already consuming about six servings of low glycemic index foods a day, the Ohio State University researchers said.
During the study, most of the participants also ate about 500 fewer calories a day and added fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to their diet. All these foods are on the low end of the glycemic index.
The researchers also found that participants' confidence in being able to meet their goal was a major factor in their ability to reach the goal. Those with more confidence had higher levels of commitment, which increased their likelihood of success.
The study was published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.
"We ask people to set goals because they motivate action," lead author Carla Miller, an associate professor of human nutrition, said in a university news release. "Telling people to 'go out and do your best' is not effective. It's not specific enough, or targeted enough, or timely."
"But in this context, it's not just a matter of setting a goal. It's deciding what specifically you are going to modify to help you achieve a more healthful diet," she added.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about diabetes and nutrition.