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Homewatch CareGivers Blog

Diabetes & Nutrition

by Homewatch CareGivers | Feb 24, 2015
March is National Nutrition Month and also American Diabetes Alert Day occurs, thus a perfect opportunity to look at the relationship between food and diabetes.

nutritious meal ingredients

Diet plays an important role in managing diabetes. March is National Nutrition Month® and also American Diabetes Alert Day occurs, thus a perfect opportunity to look at the relationship between food and diabetes.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report (released in 2014 with data from 2012) shows that 29.1 million Americans –9.3% of the population—have diabetes. That is up from 25.8 million in 2010. Furthermore, the report states that another 8.1 million people are undiagnosed. Diabetes is prevalent in the 65 and older population, with 11.8 million seniors diagnosed and undiagnosed with diabetes.

Eating Right for Your Diabetes

Food is an important part of everyday life, and having diabetes shouldn’t mean that you have to compromise mealtime satisfaction or enjoyment. When creating an elder care plan that includes good nutrition, experts highlight the importance of portion control as well as high nutrient, low glycemic food choices.

“Finding your stride with a new diet can be especially challenging if medications, dental problems, decreased exercise, illness or sensory changes are contributing to a loss of appetite,” said Caitlin Hosmer, Senior Nutritionist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. “Limited food preferences and the sheer difficulty of changing behaviors contribute to this challenge.”

Beyond Food

There are both good and bad eating habits to be broken and to be incorporated into one’s life. If healthy social and environmental changes are made, along with changing what is on the plate, individuals with diabetes may find it easier to start eating a healthier diet.

If you are a caregiver for someone with diabetes, try their new diet too. After a consultation with a doctor, research recipes together online (www.diabetes.org offers meal plans and recipes), then shop for ingredients together if possible and if it is of interest to both parties; find a way to prepare and cook meals as a team instead of one person cooking for and serving the other one.

The dining area should be clean, comfortable, and uncluttered with proper lighting and a table at the appropriate height. Meals should not be rushed. Gathering together to eat should be a happy time to share stories or to discuss other meal ideas.

Food Matters

One goal with eating better is to maintain a healthy weight. “Losing just 7 percent of your body weight if you're overweight can make a significant difference in your blood sugar control,” notes the Mayo Clinic website.

Even if weight is not an issue, diabetics need to be aware of how much and what type of carbohydrate foods they eat in order to balance blood glucose levels. There is no single diet that is right for everyone with diabetes, but paying attention to glycemic levels and carbohydrates can be beneficial.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “A healthy diet is one with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with a limited amount of saturated fat.”

Get a list of “Diabetes Superfoods” such as dark green, leafy vegetables, nuts, sweet potatoes, salmon, and more at the American Diabetes Association website.

Are You at Risk?

Diabetes Alert Day is March 24, 2015. People are encouraged to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing the disease. The test asks a few simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. If you or a loved one discover that you are at risk for diabetes, schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss possible lifestyle changes.