Essential Foods for Staying Healthy with Diabetes
One of the simplest ways for seniors with diabetes to live a healthier life is by eating right. Check out our list of must-have foods, shopping tips, and helpful resources.
Making healthy food choices can be challenging—particularly for those with diabetes and their caregivers. But it’s a critical part of managing diabetes without complications. Simply by eating right, controlling portion size, and sticking to regular mealtimes, it’s possible to help keep blood sugar and body weight within the right target range. That’s the core of a good diabetes diet.
A good diabetes diet, according to A Place for Mom Nutrition experts, is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But what does that mean for your shopping list?
Foods Diabetics Should Avoid
If you or a loved one has diabetes, there are a handful of crucial foods whose intake absolutely must be limited. It doesn’t mean you have to go through your kitchen and chuck every grain of sugar, but it does mean paying attention to how much of these items you consume:
- Eat less fat. In particular, avoid foods containing saturated fat or trans fat.
- Eat less salt. Canned, packaged, and processed foods are often culprits when it comes to hidden sodium. You want to aim for 2,000 mg per day or less.
- Eat less sugar. Watch out for extra sugar in drinks and packaged snack foods.
- Eat less cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic suggests no more than 200 mg per day.
- Limit alcohol intake.
Foods That Belong on Every Diabetic’s Shopping List
So what can seniors with diabetes eat? Here’s a sampling of foods to fill your shopping cart:
- Healthy carbohydrates: whole-grain breads, rice, and cereals; legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils; fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy products.
- Fiber: oatmeal, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, wheat bran.
- Fruits and Vegetables: pick a variety—the CDC recommends dark green veggies such as broccoli and spinach, orange veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes, and plenty of beans and peas.
- Lean Protein: low-fat or nonfat dairy, skinless poultry, fish, lean cuts of beef and pork.
- “Good” Fats: eat these in sparing amounts — avocados, olives, nuts
Even More Resources for Healthy Eating
We’ve hand-selected these online resources with outstanding tips and recipes for healthy diabetic diets:
- The American Diabetes Association has devoted an entire section of their website to healthy cooking and meal planning, including a sample shopping list.
- The CDC’s Diabetes Public Health Resource has healthy eating tips, as well as websites and phone numbers to help you put together a diabetes meal plan.
- The Mayo Clinic has a wealth of information on diabetic health and nutrition, including what to eat and what not to eat, with some sample suggested meals.
Essential Foods for Staying Healthy with Diabetes by Sarah Stevenson