Oct 8

Seniors Controlling Diabetes with Nutrition

ADA Diet News
By Linda Ban, Pharm D Candidate, 2016, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Living with diabetes can be demanding and for many diabetics. Choosing what to eat is a major challenge! The American Diabetes Association agrees there is no universal diet that will work for everyone.  The most important thing is to collaborate with your healthcare provider to find a diet that will work for you!

We all need carbohydrates for energy; what’s essential is getting nutrient-dense carbohydrates. Look for carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and low fat dairy products. These foods have the necessary nutrients you need to stay healthy like calcium, vitamin D and fiber.  Avoid carbohydrates from processed sources with added fat, sugar and salt like doughnuts, muffins, or granola bars. Instead use these foods as occasional small treats but remember to reach for a smaller portion. Some great sources of nutrient dense carbohydrates are steal cut oatmeal, homemade popcorn, brown rice, and quinoa. If you love bread or pasta, look for packages that say whole grains or whole wheat at the grocery store.

Vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. Challenge yourself to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables!  Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes or any dark leafy green.  Save the corn, potatoes and carrots for smaller portions because they are actually high in sugar.

Our body also needs protein to build strong muscles. Eat fish such as salmon, tuna, and tilapia at least 2 times per week as a great source of protein and omega 3 to help keep your heart and brain healthy. Other great sources of protein are chicken, fat-free or low fat dairy products and beans. Try to keep your portion of lean meats to about the size of a closed fist and fill up the rest of your plate with veggies and fruits.

Fats and sugars should be the smallest part of your meal. Be picky and careful about your choices. 30 percent or less of your daily calories should be from fat. This is equivalent to about less than 60 grams of fat for an average adult. Look at the back of your food packaging for fat content. Any food product that has less than 3 grams of fat per serving is considered low fat.

Avoid sweetened beverages and food. Instead, reach for some water, fresh fruit or a delicious smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth and thirst. Substituting sweeteners with sugar substitutes can be helpful. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugars which are many times sweeter than regular sugar, so you don’t need as much! Artificial sugars have been under criticism lately, but they are a great strategy for diabetics if used in moderation. However, it doesn’t matter if you are using table sugar or artificial sugar, moderation is still essential. Use artificial sugar as a tool to help you adjust your diet, not a reason for you to eat more. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to cut out all sugar but it means you have to be more careful with your choices.

Evert, A. B., J. L. Boucher, M. Cypress, S. A. Dunbar, M. J. Franz, E. J. Mayer-Davis, J. J. Neumiller, R. Nwankwo, C. L. Verdi, P. Urbanski, and W. S. Yancy. “Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults With Diabetes.” Diabetes Care 36.11 (2013): 3821-842. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.