If you or someone you love is among the nearly 16 million seniors with diabetes, you no doubt know firsthand how challenging the condition can be to deal with. Between prescription drugs, lifestyle changes, daily glucose tests, and so much more, a person with diabetes can very quickly become overwhelmed. And possibly the most challenging barrier to overcome is adherence to a disciplined diet program.
Thankfully, there is help available! Our in-home care team has put together the following recommendations designed to improve health with a well-balanced diet plan that is not only easy to follow, but also enjoyable!
Why a Diabetes-Friendly Diet Is Very Important
It is all about keeping your blood glucose levels in a healthy range; and the easiest way to accomplish this is through keeping your weight in a healthy range. Eating too many calories and carrying around extra body fat triggers a surge in blood sugar, which could have severe consequences, including kidney, heart, and nerve damage.
The Diabetes Eating Plan
Diabetic patients should try to eat at regular intervals during the day in order to adequately regulate insulin levels. A physician or dietitian can take into consideration individual health goals, lifestyles, and preferences to create a customized diet plan. The following are some tips for diabetic-friendly foods to incorporate.
Fiber: Fiber is necessary to aid in digestion as well as regulate blood sugar levels, and can be found in:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains
- Peas, Beans, as well as other legumes
“Good” carbs: Healthy carbs (those with no 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 grain products
- Beans, peas, and other legumes
“Good” fats: Just like carbs, there are bad and good fats. Stay away from saturated and trans fats, choosing instead foods full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (in moderation), such as:
- Peanut, canola, and olive oils
Fish: Stay away from deep-fried fish and certain kinds of fish that are full of mercury. Instead, choose fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like:
With these foods in mind, the American Diabetes Association suggests mentally visualizing your plate in parts: one half of the plate on one side, and the second half divided into two quarters. Now, prepare your plate as follows:
- In one quarter of the plate, add some type of protein: lean pork, chicken, tuna, etc.
- On the second quarter, place a whole-grain food or starchy vegetable: brown rice, green peas, etc.
- Lastly, in the half-plate portion, include non-starchy veggies: tomatoes, carrots, spinach, etc.
- A small amount of “good” fats as mentioned above can be included, along with a serving of low-fat dairy, fruit, and a plain beverage like water or unsweetened tea or coffee.
Here is how it might look for each meal:
- Breakfast: 1 slice of whole-wheat toast spread with two teaspoons of jam, ½ cup of whole-grain cereal, a cup of low-fat yogurt, and a portion of fruit.
- Lunch: A chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with low-fat cheddar cheese, tomato, and lettuce, 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, a medium dinner roll, and a glass of sugarless iced tea.
An at-home caregiver from Grace Home Care, a dedicated provider of senior care in Topeka, KS, can help improve health in many ways by making sure seniors with diabetes follow their dietary plans. From transportation to medical appointments and exercise classes to grocery shopping and planning nutritious meals and much more, we’re here for you, each step of the way.