While diabetes is a manageable condition, having diabetes as an older adult can be challenging.
Living well as a diabetic in a senior living community isn’t always easy with a strict diet or when activities, mealtimes, and social gatherings are interrupted by injections and blood tests. Getting enough exercise and making the switch to a diabetic menu can both be daunting. Following guidelines for what you can eat and how much you should have of each food can get tedious, and the lists of foods you can’t eat often feel restrictive.
If you start practicing a healthy lifestyle, however, you won’t have to worry so much about lists of dos and do-nots. You’ll be able to manage you diabetes and feel better, stronger, and healthier overall.
Our wellness experts have put together a tip sheet of healthy eats that will help you keep living well into the future.
Superfoods for Diabetic Seniors
Health food gurus these days have been touting the salubrious powers of myriad “superfoods,” but there never seems to be a consensus about what those foods are and what health benefits they may have.
These diabetic superfoods, however, are nutritional goldmines with plenty of vitamins and minerals that older Americans often don’t get enough of in their diet.
This high fiber food (a single ½ cup serving provides about a third of your daily requirement) is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and protein.
Go for pinto, kidney, black—whatever bean suits your fancy. Canned beans will save you prep time, but make sure that you rinse well to get rid of sodium preservatives.
Sweet and tangy citrus are packed full of vitamin C and fiber. Try having an orange or half a grapefruit when your sweet-tooth strikes. The natural sugars can help satisfy your craving without the fatty additives of junk food.
Add fresh berries to your morning oatmeal or a non-fat yogurt parfait to get a tasty blast of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
Yes, we know tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we think they deserve their own category.
Stewed in a sauce or raw as an apple—there’s no wrong way to enjoy this superfood. No matter how you eat them, you’re getting a dose of important nutrients like iron and vitamins E and C.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens are always a good nutritional choice, no matter your diet.
These veggies are a great source of carotenoids— an antioxidant that can be instrumental in preventing cancer—and boast high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Salad greens like spinach and kale are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K. Broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens boast an additional complement of B-vitamins.
Low levels of carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol mean you can never eat too much of this food.
If you’re getting sick of grilled chicken every night, try changing up your diabetic menu by substituting with fish high in Omega-3s a few meals every week.
Salmon is always a favorite, and great for grilling, but tuna is a good standby. Watch how you prepare your fish, though. Your albacore just doesn’t have the same healthy kick when it’s smothered in mayo, and deep fried fillets are drenched in all the wrong kinds of oil.
Whole Grains and Nuts
Yes, your white bread did start life out as grain, but all of the bleaching and preservatives that go into the making a processed loaf nullify any health benefits.
It’s the germ and bran of the whole grain you’re after. These little kernels are what hold all the nutrients. Make your sandwich out of whole grain bread to get the magnesium, chromium, omega 3 fatty acids and folate you need.
If you don’t want whole wheat toast in the morning, having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will start your day off with a serving of fiber and potassium. Add a handful of chopped walnuts or seeds (flax is always a good choice) to help manage hunger and provide healthy fats, magnesium and fiber.
If you add these foods into your diabetic menu, you can be sure that you’re getting plenty of essential nutrients and eating well within your dietary guidelines.