Foods for Seniors with Diabetes

Making healthy food choices can be challenging — particularly for seniors with diabetic restrictions — but it’s a critical part of managing diabetes without health complications. Simply by controlling portion size, eating right and sticking to regular mealtimes, it’s possible to help keep blood sugar and body weight within the target range. That’s the core of a diabetes diet.

A diabetes diet, according to A Place for Mom Senior Nutrition experts, is also naturally rich in nutrients and low in calories and fat, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But what does that mean for your shopping list?

Foods That Diabetics Should Avoid

If you or a loved one has diabetes, there are a handful of foods whose intake must be limited. It doesn’t mean you have to go through your kitchen and pitch every grain of sugar you see, but it does mean paying attention to how much of these items you consume.

Seniors with diabetes should avoid or limit:

  • Alcohol intake
  • Cholesterol: The Mayo Clinic suggests no more than 200 mg per day
  • Fat: In particular, avoid foods containing saturated fat or trans fat
  • Salt: Canned, packaged and processed foods are often culprits when it comes to hidden sodium you want to aim for 2,000 mg per day or less
  • Sugar: Watch out for extra sugar in drinks and packaged snack foods

Foods That Belong on Every Diabetic’s Shopping List

So what can seniors with diabetes eat? Here’s a sampling of foods to fill your shopping cart:

  • Fiber: Fruits, legumes, nuts, oatmeal, vegetables, wheat bran and whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables: Pick a variety — the CDC recommends dark green veggies such as broccoli and spinach, orange veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes, and plenty of beans and peas
  • “Good” fats: Eat these in sparing amounts — avocados, nuts, olives
  • Healthy carbohydrates: Whole-grain bread, cereals and rice; legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas; fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy products.
  • Lean protein: Low-fat or nonfat dairy, skinless fish and poultry, lean cuts of beef and pork.

Resources for Healthy Eating

How can you make a difference today?

Make healthy changes to your diabetic diet by using these hand-selected resources that feature outstanding recipes and tips:

  1. The American Diabetes Association has devoted an entire section of its website to healthy cooking and meal planning, including a sample shopping list.
  2. The CDC’s Diabetes Public Health Resource has healthy eating tips, as well as phone numbers and websites to help you put together a diabetes meal plan.
  3. The Mayo Clinic also has a wealth of information on diabetic health and nutrition, including what to eat and what not to eat, with some sample suggested meals. also recommends encouraging people to “make small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.” They add:

“Talk to people in your community about getting regular checkups. They can get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and ask the doctor about their diabetes risk.”

Finally, is calling on doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by “speaking about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity” for seniors with diabetes.