If you or someone you love is among the nearly 16 million seniors living with diabetes, you understand how daunting the condition can be to manage. Between medications, changes in lifestyle, daily glucose tests, and more, senior diabetics can very quickly become overwhelmed. And possibly the most challenging obstacle to overcome is adherence to a regimented dietary plan.
Why a Diabetes-Friendly Diet Is Essential
It’s all about maintaining your blood glucose levels in a healthy range; and the easiest way to accomplish this is by keeping your weight in a healthy range. Eating too many calories and carrying around excess body fat leads to a surge in blood glucose, which could have serious repercussions such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage.
The Diabetes Eating Plan
Senior diabetics should eat at regular times throughout the day to effectively control insulin levels. A doctor or dietitian can take under consideration individual preferences, lifestyle, and health goals in order to establish a personalized meal plan. To follow are a few suggestions for diabetes-friendly foods to include each day.
Fiber: Fiber is important to help with digestion as well as regulate sugar levels, and can be found in:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans, peas, as well as other legumes
“Good” carbs: Healthy carbohydrates (those without added sugar, sodium, and fat) break down into blood glucose, and include:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Low-fat milk, cheese, as well as other milk products
- Whole grains
- Peas, beans, as well as other legumes
“Good” fats: Just like carbs, there are good and bad fats. Stay away from trans and saturated fats, opting instead for foods full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (in moderation), like:
- Peanut, canola, and olive oils
Fish: Try to avoid deep-fried fish and certain types of fish that are high in mercury. Instead choose fish that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
With these foods in mind, the American Diabetes Association advises mentally picturing your plate in parts: 50% of the plate on one side, and the second half split up into two quarters. Now, organize your plate as follows:
- On one quarter of the plate, add some sort of protein: tuna, lean pork, chicken, etc.
- In the second quarter, add a starchy vegetable or whole-grain food: brown rice, green peas, etc.
- Lastly, in the half-plate portion, include non-starchy veggies: carrots, tomatoes, spinach, etc.
- A small amount of “good” fats as mentioned above can be provided, alongside a portion of low-fat dairy, fruit, and a plain beverage like water or sugarless tea or coffee.
Here’s how it could look for each meal:
- Breakfast: 1 piece of whole-wheat toast spread with two teaspoons of jam, ½ cup of whole-grain breakfast cereal, a cup of low-fat yogurt, and a portion of fruit.
- Lunch: A chicken sandwich on wheat bread with low-fat cheese, lettuce, and tomato, a piece of fruit, and a glass of water.
- Snack: 2 ½ cups of popcorn with 1 ½ teaspoons of margarine.
- Dinner: Salmon grilled in 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil, one small baked potato, ½ cup of peas, ½ cup of carrots, one medium dinner roll, and a glass of sugarless iced tea.
An at-home caregiver from Compassionate Nursing Services, an award-winning provider of Chesterfield companion care and home care services throughout the surrounding areas, can assist in a variety of ways to make certain seniors with diabetes adhere to their dietary plans and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. From transportation to medical appointments and exercise classes to grocery shopping and planning nutritious meals and more, we are here to help, each step of the way.