When planning menus for seniors with diabetes, nutrition is essential, as eating healthy meals helps keep blood sugar under control. All too often, however, diabetic-friendly menus for seniors lack satisfying flavors and textures.
Fortunately, no one has to feel deprived. Diabetic-friendly recipes can be both healthy and delicious.
November is American Diabetes Month and a fitting time to create nutritious meals that appeal to diabetic seniors. Here are our favorite tips for healthy menu planning to help manage diabetes.
Choose Low Glycemic Index Foods in Diabetic Menus for Seniors
The glycemic index (GI) measures the effect that carbohydrate-containing foods exert on blood glucose levels. Foods with a high GI are digested more rapidly, so they raise the blood sugar more than those with lower levels.
As a general rule, diabetic-friendly meals should contain a higher concentration of low-GI foods. Whole grain breads and cereals, dried beans and legumes and non-starchy vegetables are good choices. Senior menus should limit foods that are processed or rich in refined sugar or white flour, such as potatoes, pasta and rice.
This doesn’t mean that seniors with diabetes can’t enjoy their favorite high GI foods once in awhile. They can be combined with low-GI foods to balance the meal and lessen their effect on blood sugar levels.
Limit Carbs – and Make Them Count – in Diabetic Meals for Seniors
The glycemic index speaks to the types of carbohydrate choices that are best for seniors with diabetes. However, the amount of carbohydrates eaten makes just as big a difference in managing the disease.
Experts recommend limiting carbs in diabetic menu plans. When carbs are included, choose nutrient-dense foods and limit the size of the portions.
A few simple swaps can help lower the number of carbs without sacrificing flavor and meal satisfaction. Serve whole fruits instead of juice, for example, and add more vegetables and lean meats to bulk up pasta and rice dishes.
Flavor-rich seasonings and fresh herbs provide a simple and cost-effective way to make diabetic meals tastier and more visually appealing.
Tips to Developing Dessert Menus for Seniors Diabetic-Friendly
Diabetic seniors have just as much of a sweet tooth as anyone else. Fortunately, dessert recipes can often easily be converted to be lower in sugar.
Try using sugar substitutes in baked goods, and replace the oil or fat in your desserts with applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed prunes. Rather than skipping pies and tarts, serve crustless versions. Cakes and cookies can still be enjoyed by those with diabetes, but leave off the frosting and decorations and top them instead with a light dusting of cocoa or cinnamon.
The Grove Menus program features hundreds of dietitian-approved recipes designed to improve the taste and nutrition of your assisted living meals. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary demonstration of your advanced solution for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We look forward to helping you improve our food service processes and menus for seniors.