If you or someone you love is among the nearly 16 million older adults diagnosed with diabetes, you no doubt know firsthand how challenging the disease is to manage. Between prescription drugs, lifestyle changes, daily glucose tests, and much more, a person with diabetes can easily become overwhelmed. And maybe the most challenging barrier to conquer is adherence to a disciplined diet plan and healthy lifestyle choices.
Why a Diabetes-Friendly Diet Is Crucial
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. Consuming too many calories and carrying around too much body fat leads to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can have serious consequences including heart, nerve, and kidney problems.
The Diabetes Meal Plan
In order to manage insulin levels, diabetic patients should try to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. A doctor or dietitian may take into consideration individual health goals, lifestyles, and preferences to establish a personalized diet plan., The following are some suggestions for diabetic-friendly foods to include.
Fiber: Fiber is necessary to assist in digestion as well as regulate blood sugar levels, and can be found in:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Whole grain products
- Beans, peas, along with other legumes
“Good” carbs: Healthy carbohydrates (those without added sodium, sugar, and fat) break down into blood glucose, and include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat milk, cheese, and other milk products
- Whole grains
- Peas, beans, and other legumes
“Good” fats: Much like carbs, there are bad and good fats. Try to avoid trans and saturated fats, choosing instead foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (in moderation), such as:
- Olive, peanut, and canola oils
Fish: Steer clear of deep-fried fish and certain types of fish that can be full of mercury, but incorporate fish that are full of omega-3 fatty acids, like:
With these foods in mind, the American Diabetes Association suggests mentally picturing your plate in sections: one half of the plate on one side, and the second half divided into two quarters. Now, arrange your plate as follows:
- On one quarter of the plate, add some sort of protein: tuna, lean pork, chicken, etc.
- On the second quarter, add a whole-grain food or starchy vegetable: brown rice, green peas, 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 included, along with a portion of low-fat dairy, fruit, and a plain beverage such as water or unsweetened tea or coffee.
Here’s how it could 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 chicken sandwich on wheat bread with low-fat cheese, tomato, and lettuce, a few slices of fruit, and a cup of water.
- Snack: 2 ½ cups of popcorn with 1 ½ teaspoons of margarine.
- Dinner: Salmon grilled in 1 ½ teaspoons of canola oil, one small baked potato, ½ cup of peas, ½ cup of carrots, one medium dinner roll, and a cup of sugarless iced tea.
An at-home caregiver from Anthem Home Care, a dedicated provider of in-home care in Portland, TX and the surrounding areas, can help make sure seniors with diabetes make healthy lifestyle choices and adhere to their dietary plans. From transportation to medical appointments and exercise classes to trips to the store and planning nutritious meals and more, we’re here for you, each step of the way.