When you are caring for someone with diabetes, ensuring that they have a healthy diet and make the right food choices can help control their blood sugar levels. Here are some tips to help you better manage their health.
1) Cut down on food and drinks that are high in sugar and fats
Eating in moderation is the key to achieve optimal blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes, it is important to reduce your consumption of food and drinks with high sugar and fat content, especially during festive seasons when you tend to eat more.
For instance, avoid having too much sugary food and beverages like ice-cream and fruit juice as it causes your blood glucose to spike. Furthermore, foods rich in fats like briyani or butter have a higher calorie intake and are slowly converted into glucose. If your body is resistant to insulin or produces insufficient insulin, you may experience the symptoms of hyperglycemia due to higher blood glucose levels.
Try having more soup-based food like fish soup, and add less gravy to your food to reduce your calorie intake.
2) Have a balanced diet
Controlling diabetes doesn’t mean depriving yourself of food. It means having a balanced diet to meet your nutritional needs. Here are some suggestions on how you can plan your diet:
- Rice and alternatives: Preferably brown rice or white rice mixed with brown rice in a small to medium sized bowl. Brown rice is recommended in the diet to help curb hunger and helps you maintain a consistent blood glucose level.
- Vegetables: Choose two types of dark green leafy vegetables, filling up about ¾ portion of the plate. Green vegetables contain fibre and can help keep your calories under control.
- Fruits: Fruits contain natural sugars called fructose. Therefore, the types of fruits you select is essential. In general, the elderly can consume 2-4 servings of fruit a day. Here are examples of what counts as a serving of fruit: 5 to 6 slices of guava; a small wedge of papaya; 5 to 7 pieces of small red grapes or 4 to 5 of medium-sized grapes; a small size of ripened banana. Green fruits like green apples have lesser sugar content.
- Meat and alternatives: Palm-sized amount of protein-based food like tofu or fish is preferred.
3) Have smaller meals at more frequent intervals
For the elderly who are small eaters, you can have small meals at frequent intervals instead. If you are feeling hungry in between meals, you can either have some fruits or about 3 pieces of cream crackers (which is equivalent about 15g of carbohydrates) instead of having sweet cakes and flavored breads. If you do have a craving for such food, eat those in moderation and not too frequently.
4) Remain hydrated
Lastly, consuming an adequate amount of water benefits diabetic patients. It helps to dilute the high blood glucose content in the blood and eliminate it through urine. Hence, you should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration, consuming less water before bedtime. However, if you are on a water-restricted diet, please follow the doctor’s instructions accordingly.
Do you or your elderly family member need help with blood glucose monitoring, administering insulin injections or managing diabetes? Download the Carer app and use it to hire an experienced nurse or care aide, or call us to find out more. You can also read more tips on the Carer app.
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This article is contributed by our freelance nurse who is an expert in diabetes care.