Planning Meals for Seniors with Diabetes: Healthy Options and Tips
Diabetes meal planning can help seniors living with the disease prevent it from getting worse while protecting their overall health.
The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.9% of Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes. Caregiving for a senior with this disease requires proactive meal planning. (diabetes.org)
Commonly known for its effects on glucose (blood sugar) levels, diabetes is a disease many seniors live with. Type II diabetes is more common among seniors. The disease is directly influenced by nutrition. As a result, caregivers and their seniors must plan meals that help keep diabetes under control. (nia.nih.gov)
Healthy Food Choices for Diabetes
Fortunately, living with Type II Diabetes doesn’t mean seniors can’t eat their favorite foods anymore. Diabetes can often be managed simply by making healthy choices. Portion control and consuming healthy foods like vegetables and lean meat are key.
WebMD suggests opting for:
Sugar-free foods when possible, Low sodium alternatives, Fresh whole foods, Whole grains, Low fat dairy & Minimal fried foods
Diabetes Meal Planning Methods (diabetes.org)
The Plate Method
One easy way to plan a healthy diabetes-friendly meal is the plate method. Select a meal that will fill one quarter of the plate with a lean protein, another quarter with a grain or starchy vegetable, and the remaining half of the plate with a non-starchy vegetable.
Since carbs break down into the glucose that a person with diabetes has trouble regulating, it is best to limit carbs consumed to about 45-60 per meal. Seniors can still enjoy their favorite foods, but are able to choose the right portions with carb counting.
Often used along with the carb counting method, planning meals around the glycemic index (GI) can make dietary choices easier. Seniors with diabetes choose from foods that are low on the glycemic GI for two meals per day and may opt for just one high or medium GI food each day.
Quick Meal Planning Tips
Swap For Healthier Alternatives
If a senior loves particular ingredients or foods, plan meals with healthier alternatives. For example, swap sweet potatoes for fries or use sugar free
jam instead of jelly.
Keep Meals Simple
Healthy diets rarely require much prep. When meal planning, make it a rule that you cook just one meat, one side, and one vegetable. Whenever possible, simply season it all and then grill or steam.
Develop a Routine
Once you’ve found favored healthy meals, plan to prepare them once a week. A routine will save you the hassle of trying to be creative all the time.
Home Care Tip:
Keep a grocery list of healthy foods on a diabetic senior’s fridge. When you discover a food that isn’t favored, cross it off. Within a few weeks you’ll have a list of preferred diabetic options to work from.