Planning Meals for Seniors with Diabetes – Healthy Options and Tips!

    Careful meal planning for seniors living with Diabetes is imperative in order to prevent the disease from getting worse, as well as protecting their overall health.  Use the following tips to help your loved ones or clients make healthy food choices.

    The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.9% of Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes. Caregiving for a senior with this disease requires proactive meal planning. (

    Commonly known for its effects on glucose (blood sugar) levels, diabetes is a disease many seniors live with. Type II diabetes is more common among seniors. The disease is directly influenced by nutrition. As a result, caregivers and their seniors must plan meals that help keep diabetes under control. (

    Type I vs Type II Diabetes

    Type I

    • Primarily affects children and young adults
    • Causes the body to make little or no insulin

    Type II

    • Common and tends to affect older adults
    • Causes the body to misuse insulin
    • Increases risk of heart disease, nerve damage, and other illnesses


     Healthy Food Choices for Diabetes

    Fortunately, living with Type II Diabetes doesn’t mean seniors can’t eat their favorite foods anymore. Diabetes can often be managed simply by making healthy choices. Portion control and consuming healthy foods like vegetables and lean meat are key.

    WebMD suggests opting for:

    • Sugar-free foods when possible
    • Low sodium alternatives
    • Fresh, whole foods
    • Whole grains
    • Low fat dairy
    • Minimal fried foods

    Diabetes Meal Planning Methods


    The Plate Method

    One easy way to plan a healthy diabetes-friendly meal is the plate method. Select a meal that will fill one quarter of the plate with a lean protein, another quarter with a grain or starchy vegetable, and the remaining half of the plate with a non-starchy vegetable.

    Carb Counting

    Since carbs break down into the glucose that a person with diabetes has trouble regulating, it is best to limit carbs consumed to about 45-60 per meal. Seniors can still enjoy their favorite foods, but are able to choose the right portions with carb counting.

    Glycemic Index

    Often used along with the carb counting method, planning meals around the glycemic index (GI) can make dietary choices easier. Seniors with diabetes choose from foods that are low on the glycemic GI for two meals per day and may opt for just one high or medium GI food each day.


    Quick Meal Planning Tips

     Swap For Healthier Alternatives

    If a senior loves particular ingredients or foods, plan meals with healthier alternatives. For example, swap sweet potatoes for fries or use sugar free jam instead of jelly.

    Keep Meals Simple

    Healthy diets rarely require much prep. When meal planning, make it a rule that you cook just one meat, one side, and one vegetable. Whenever possible, simply season it all and then grill or steam.

    Develop a Routine

    Once you’ve found favored healthy meals, plan to prepare them once a week. A routine will save you the hassle of trying to be creative all the time.


    Home Care Tip

    Keep a grocery list of healthy foods on a diabetic senior’s fridge. When you discover a food that isn’t favored, cross it off. Within a few weeks you’ll have a list of preferred diabetic options to work from.

    Harmony is founded with a single focus in mind: providing compassionate home care and home healthcare to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Our trustworthy caregivers are ready to lend a helping hand to your mother, father, children, and loved ones in Allegheny County, Washington County, Greene County, and many more locations throughout the region. Contact us and one of our patient advocates will be happy to discuss how Harmony's programs can help your family today.


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