Planning a Diabetic-Friendly Picnic for Seniors

By Ruby Cemental

Planning meals for seniors can be a challenge. As we age, our appetites usually decrease, and our sense of taste changes. The medications that many older people take can have further impact on taste preferences and appetite. In addition, some medications, or medical conditions might necessitate avoiding a specific type of food – milk products, spicy foods, sugar, and gluten are some examples. Diabetes can make meal planning especially difficult. However, when planning a picnic for diabetics, here are some tips!

Offer Variety

Offer as wide a variety of food as possible at your picnic. That way, if something does not suit  a senior's tastes, there are still lots of options. When selecting foods for diabetics, make sure there are several vegetable dishes available that do not contain added salt sugar, milk or other carbs since people with diabetes must consume carbs carefully. 

Protein sources, such as chicken, fish, beef and pork should be cooked to a well-done stage without added salt or sugar. Diabetics can eat lean (at least 90 percent lean) ground beef or chuck burgers. Turkey franks, burgers and turkey breast are also excellent sources of protein and won’t annoy the blood test meter.

You also want to make sure that your food choices won't go bad in the heat. Raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrot sticks, celery, yellow squash, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and sweet bell pepper strips are a great idea for picnics because they don’t suffer in the heat. Vinaigrette dressing won’t spoil, either, and are better for diabetics than creamy dressings or dips.

Watch Portions

Remember that your loved one likely does not have the same appetite as others who will be attending your picnic. So, when serving your senior's plate, try including smaller portions of healthy options. This way, you can ensure that the meal will be balanced. And if the outing increases your loved one's appetite, second helpings are always available.

Prepare Sugar-Free Desserts

Provide some desert foods that don't contain sugar. Fresh fruit and fruit salad are good choices. However, there are many diabetic-friendly dessert recipes out there that can satisfy a sweet tooth. You can find sugar-free cookies or pudding cups at most grocery stores. 

Pick the Location Carefully

Many seniors overheat easily. Choose a picnic spot that is shaded, and ideally, has easy access to air conditioning. Position your picnic near a restroom for the convenience of seniors attending. Pay close attention to the terrain of your chosen picnic spot. Make sure it is easy to navigate for those with mobility concerns. You may want to bring sunscreen or bug spray to help your loved one stay comfortable outside. 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking adequate fluids is important for everyone, no matter what their age, but older people tend become dehydrated quickly. Have refreshing, cold water available to your senior throughout the day. If your loved one wants something a little more festive, add lemon or lime slices mixed in with artificial sweeteners for an appealingly fresh taste.

For a tasty drink, try this easy recipe: 

  • One quart fresh strawberries, capped and sliced or
  • One package frozen strawberries
  • Two tablespoons sugar substitute like Splenda or Sweet n Low
  • Four teaspoons shredded lemon peel
  • Three tablespoons loose black tea
  • Ice
  • Boiling water

Place ice, strawberries, lemon peel and sweetener in a pitcher. Brew the tea. Pour the tea over the other ingredients and place in the cooler or refrigerator before going to the picnic. Enjoy!

With a few simple planning considerations, everyone in your party, will have a great time, eat well, and stay safe. Contact your local Caring Senior Service for more information about how we can help care for your senior. 

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Tags: Diabetes