When you get a new diagnosis, it can feel overwhelming. All of a sudden there are new rules to memorize and labels to read. However, there are a few ways to add nutrition to your new diet that will also increase variety!
Becoming Diabetic Friendly
Bring on the Berries
Some fruits contain as much sugar as candy does, but fresh berries go on the ‘safe’ list for diabetic seniors! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries all offer a sweet touch to any meal without elevating blood sugar levels too much!
Choose skim milk fortified with Vitamin D, which can help seniors maintain needed bone health.
Grab some Yogurt
Look for sugar-free varieties. A fruity cup of yogurt makes a great dessert, as well as a quick snack between meals!
Let-go my Egg-o
Boiled eggs are a fast way to introduce protein without spiking blood sugar, and at about a quarter the cost of meat, are very economical as well! Keeping these kinds of “fast foods” in the house also cuts down on convenience eating.
Avoid fruit juices which (almost all) contain added sugar and go for the whole fruit. Oranges, lemons, and limes can be eaten whole or used to add zest to other dishes. (Most seniors should avoid grapefruit because it contains compounds that may interact with their medications.)
Sweet potatoes satisfy that craving for a starch with the meal but don’t cause post-meal blood sugar spikes the way white and red potatoes do.
Whole grain breads, oatmeal, brown rice, and barley allow your senior to enjoy bread with meals. Slow-digesting whole grains taste great and generally don’t negatively affect blood sugar levels.
Seniors with diabetes can consume fresh tomatoes to their heart’s content. Tomatoes are loaded with Vitamins C and E, along with iron. Eat them raw or cooked!
The Power of Going Green
These nutrient powerhouses include spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens, and many others. (Seniors who take a ‘blood-thinning’ medication like Coumadin should avoid dark green leafy vegetables.) Spinach can be blended into smoothies, scrambled into eggs, made into salads, used like lettuce on sandwiches. Celery is a quick snack item that actually takes more calories to eat than it puts into your system. Adding a bit of peanut butter makes it a near perfect snack item!
Along with fiber; navy, kidney, white cannellini, and pinto beans are packed with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, AND are low in fat! Wealthy in the essential minerals magnesium and potassium, beans are also rich in lignans which may play a role in preventing osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer risks! (To take the “gas” out, soak the beans overnight, and rinse before cooking. Not enough time to soak? You can add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water as they cook.) Three bean salad, or hearty heart healthy chili…anyone?
Prepare fresh or frozen cold water fish like salmon once a week (or more) to gain the healthful effects of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts provide nutrients and protein, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Fred Meyer has a grinder which can be used to make your own ‘nut butter. My personal favorite is almond butter!
So, as you can see, a little bit of creativity and changing out a few key items in your fridge will make a great deal of difference with this new lifestyle change. Don’t forget, your diet is limited only by your imagination! A good rule of thumb is to limit your shopping trips to the outer isles of the grocery store, they contain the fresh fruits and veggies; however, if budget is a concern, frozen fruits and veggies as well as canned salmon and tuna can substitute.