Nutrition for Type 2 Diabetes: Features for the Elderly and People with Excess Body Weight

meal plan for type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is one of the diet-dependent diseases, which means that one of its causes is improper nutrition.

The use of any medications for type 2 diabetes, however, cannot fully compensate for the effects of poor nutrition on blood glucose levels. Proper meal plan for type 2 diabetes is a critical component of effective treatment and helps achieve blood glucose targets.

Approaches to nutrition for people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or not, have arterial hypertension, etc., will differ slightly.

Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. It is overweight that prevents its own insulin from working effectively, so that blood glucose levels remain high. Therefore, weight loss is a prerequisite for rational treatment! Even a moderate weight loss (5-10%) improves carbohydrate metabolism, especially in the early period of the disease.

Nutrition for diabetes mellitus has the following goals:

  1. Maintaining normal body weight;
  2. Maintaining normal cholesterol levels;
  3. Maintaining normal glucose levels.

General rules of diets for diabetes

A diabetic’s nutrition involves adherence to basic meal norms and additional measures:

  • A complete and balanced diet is the basis of good health with diabetes;
  • You should not skip breakfast, lunch or dinner. Meals should be eaten regularly and at regular intervals;
  • The portions of meals should not be small or very large. The volume of food should be optimal for appetite suppressant;
  • It is necessary to watch your weight. Obesity reduces the sensitivity to insulin, so it makes it much more difficult to treat the disease;
  • In addition to the main meals, the diet should include additional snacks, such as a second breakfast and an afternoon snack;
  • The best diet therapy is fractional meals of up to five or six times a day.
  • It is recommended to observe the sleep regime – poor sleep aggravates insulin resistance and increases the manifestation of stress at the metabolic level. Lack of sleep affects the hormones that control hunger and satiety – ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” signals the brain that it is time to eat. When a person is sleep deprived, the body produces more ghrelin. In turn, leptin signals the brain that the body is full. When a person is chronically sleep-deprived, leptin levels drop, and this signals the brain to increase hunger for more energy. So it is quite natural that lack of sleep leads to overeating and extra pounds.
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (oily saltwater fish boiled or baked at least 140 grams per week, and preferably 280 grams per week for women of childbearing age and 560 grams per week for men and menopausal women, with no more than 100 g of fish per day; olive, flax, soy and rapeseed oils, but no more than 2 tablespoons of any oil a day in all meals)
  • Alcohol is not recommended for diabetes.

How to achieve weight loss in type 2 diabetes?

It should be noted at once that there are no specific products or medicinal plants for weight loss. There are no medications that can provide highly effective and completely safe weight loss on their own, without following a diet.

The only reliable way is to limit the intake of energy into the body (indicated in calories), i.e. by following a low-calorie diet. The resulting lack of energy leads to the fact that energy reserves, “conserved” in fat tissue, will be spent on the body’s various needs, and the weight will surely go down.

The carriers of energy in food are its three components: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The most caloric of them are fats, they contain 9 kcal in 1 gram; in proteins and carbohydrates – 4 kcal per 1 gram.

The most effective way to reduce the caloric content of food would be to reduce the fat content in it. This is not only safe, but also good for health, since our diet, unfortunately, is oversaturated with fats.

Compared with fats, the caloric content of proteins and carbohydrates can be considered moderate, but in order to achieve a good effect in weight loss, they still need to be limited slightly.

There are a number of foods that do not need to be restricted when losing weight. On the contrary, these are the foods that can compensate for the limitations listed above and replenish the reduced food intake. This group of foods is represented mainly by vegetables, which are poor in nutrients, but rich in water, as well as plant fibers, which are not digested. Plant fibers bring many benefits to the body: they improve intestinal function, help the absorption of vitamins, have a beneficial effect on fat metabolism, etc.

Key options for the diet in type 2 diabetes

  • Daily caloric intake – from 1600 to 1800 kilocalories;
  • Reducing the consumption of simple carbohydrates and animal fats;
  • use of sugar substitutes, such as stevia;
  • maximal break between meals of four hours;
  • Because type 2 diabetes increases kidney sensitivity, it is recommended to reduce the amount of salt to nine grams per day (one teaspoon + ⅓ teaspoon).

Is it safe to eat special “diabetic” foods?

Sugar substitutes make food taste sweet without increasing blood glucose levels and without weight gain. But in this case we are talking only about non-caloric sugar substitutes. These include aspartame, saccharin, cyclamate, acesulfame potassium, sucralose. They do not affect blood glucose levels or weight at all. However, most “diabetic” foods (cookies, chocolate, waffles) contain sorbitol, xylitol or fructose instead of sugar, which are almost as caloric as sugar. Therefore, if you are overweight, they should be limited as much as possible, just like regular sweets.

Diet for the elderly with diabetes

Although diabetes can affect people of any age, it peaks around age 60. Among people over age 65, the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes is 40%. In the elderly, the disease can manifest itself in general malaise, memory impairment, urinary incontinence, sleep disturbances, thirst disorders, visual disturbances, recurrent infections, or difficulty healing wounds. In the case of the elderly, it is important to constantly monitor blood sugar levels and to follow an appropriate diet to help prevent or alleviate the disease.

The diet of older people with blood sugar problems should include vegetables that contain complex carbohydrates on the one hand and dietary fiber on the other, which improve digestion of sugars and make them digest slowly. This includes all varieties of lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, cucumbers, cabbage, radishes, onions, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach. 

It is important to eat them raw or semi-solid. People with high sugar levels should eat whole-grain cereal products such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, cereals, bran, oatmeal, and barley. In addition to fiber, these contain B vitamins, which have a positive effect on the digestion of carbohydrates. Care should be taken with fruit. Choose less sweet ones: oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, strawberries and avocados.

Menu for a week for diabetics

Menus for diabetes should be prepared only by a qualified dietitian, taking into account the type of disease and the individual dosage of products, taking into account age and the presence or absence of obesity.