If you or a person you love is among the nearly 16 million seniors with diabetes, you understand firsthand how challenging the disease can be to deal with. Between medications, lifestyle changes, daily glucose tests, and so much more, diabetic patients can easily become overwhelmed. And perhaps the most challenging obstacle to overcome is adherence to a disciplined diet program.
Why a Diabetes-Friendly Diet Is Important
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. Eating too many calories and carrying around extra body fat leads to a surge in blood sugar, that could have severe consequences, including heart, nerve, and kidney damage.
The Diabetes Eating Plan
Diabetic patients should try to eat at regular intervals throughout the day to most effectively manage insulin levels. A physician or dietitian can take into account individual health goals, lifestyles, and preferences in order to create a customized meal plan. To follow are a few tips for diabetic-friendly foods to include.
Fiber: Fiber is essential to help with digestion as well as regulate sugar levels, and can be found in:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains
- Beans, peas, along with other legumes
“Good” carbohydrates: Healthy carbs (those without added sodium, sugar, and fat) break down into blood glucose, and include:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Low-fat milk, cheese, as well as other dairy products
- Whole grains
- Peas, beans, as well as other legumes
“Good” fats: As with carbohydrates, there are bad and good fats. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, choosing instead foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (in moderation), for example:
- Peanut, canola, and olive oils
Fish: Refrain from fried fish and certain kinds of fish that are high in mercury. Instead, look for fish that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
With these foods in mind, the American Diabetes Association advises mentally visualizing your plate in portions: half of the plate on one side, and the second half divided in to two quarters. Now, fill your plate as follows:
- On one quarter of the plate, add some type of protein: tuna, lean pork, chicken, etc.
- In the second quarter, add a starchy vegetable or whole-grain food: green peas, brown rice, etc.
- Lastly, in the half-plate section, include non-starchy vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
- Small amounts of “good” fats as mentioned above can also be incorporated, along with a helping 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 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 serving of fruit.
- Lunch: A chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with low-fat 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 canola oil, a 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 Inspired Home Care, an award-winning provider of home care assistance in the Gold Coast area of Chicago and the surrounding communities, can assist in a number of ways to make sure diabetic patients adhere to their diets and are enjoying a healthy lifestyle. From transportation to doctors’ appointments and exercise classes to grocery shopping and planning nutritionally beneficial meals plus much more, we’re here for you, every step of the way.