If you or a person you love is among the nearly 16 million seniors diagnosed with diabetes, you realize how challenging it is to manage the disease. Between prescription drugs, lifestyle changes, daily glucose tests, and much more, a person with diabetes can easily become overwhelmed. And perhaps the most difficult hurdle to get over is adherence to a regimented diet program.
Why a Diabetes-Friendly Diet Is Crucial
It’s all about keeping your blood glucose levels in a healthy range; and the easiest way to do this is through keeping your weight in a healthy range. Consuming too many calories and carrying around extra fat in the body leads to a surge in blood glucose, which could have severe consequences, including nerve, kidney, and heart problems.
The Diabetes Meal Plan
People with diabetes are encouraged to eat at regular time periods through the day, in order to adequately control insulin levels. A doctor or dietitian may take into consideration individual preferences, lifestyle, and health goals to create a personalized diet plan. The following are a selection of diabetes-friendly foods to incorporate.
Fiber: Fiber is essential to help with digestion as well as regulate sugar levels, and can be found in:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Peas, Beans, along with other legumes
“Good” carbs: Healthy carbs (those without added sodium, sugar, and fat) break down into blood sugar, and include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat milk, cheese, as well as other dairy products
- Whole grains
- Beans, peas, as well as other legumes
“Good” fats: Much like carbohydrates, there are good and bad fats. Stay away from trans and saturated fats, selecting instead foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (in moderation), for example:
- Olive, peanut, and canola oils
Fish: Steer clear of fried fish and certain types of fish that can be full of mercury. Instead, look for fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like:
With these foods in mind, the American Diabetes Association recommends mentally picturing your plate in portions: one half of the plate on one side, and the second half split up into two quarters. Now, organize your plate as follows:
- In one quarter of the plate, place some sort of protein: chicken, tuna, lean pork, etc.
- In the second quarter, add a starchy vegetable or whole-grain food: green peas, brown rice, etc.
- Finally, in the half-plate segment, include non-starchy vegetables: carrots, tomatoes, spinach, etc.
- Small amounts of “good” fats as listed above can be provided, alongside a helping of low-fat dairy, fruit, and a plain beverage like water or unsweetened tea or coffee.
Here’s how it might look for each meal:
- Breakfast: 1 piece of whole-wheat toast spread with two teaspoons of jelly, ½ cup of whole-grain cereal, a cup of low-fat yogurt, and a portion of fruit.
- Lunch: A turkey 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 in-home caregiver from Live Free Home Health Care, a provider of trusted home care services in Concord, NH and nearby areas, can help make sure seniors with diabetes follow their dietary plans and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. From transportation to medical appointments and exercise classes to grocery shopping and planning nutritious meals and much more, we’re here for you, every step of the way.