Managing Diabetes During COVID-19: Balance and Fun

Published on : 11/18/20
  • by Mindi Manuel, MS, RD, CSG, LDN, CDP

    Mindi Manuel is a regional manager for Sodexo Seniors in Pennsylvania.

    More than 34 million people in North America live with diabetes and approximately 40% of people who have died from COVID-19 in America had diabetes.

    We know the pandemic has placed an increased burden on our residents with diabetes. Those with diabetes are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality if infected with COVID-19. This may be due to the stress of the pandemic and changes to routines, eating habits, and physical activity. These factors can lead to either hyper- or hypo-glycemic episodes, leading to poor diabetes management and potential complications. Additionally, infections cause increases in blood glucose; and experts believe that the virus may thrive in this type of environment. Therefore, it’s as important as ever to ensure our residents get the nutrition they need as well as the right amount of physical activity to control their blood sugars.

    It’s my privilege to work in Seniors, to support our dietitians in creating nutrition plans that support our residents’ lifestyle and ensure their good health. In the time of COVID-19, we’re challenged by social distancing, our restaurants and dining rooms being closed or limited, and not being able to meet with many residents in person. Our dietitians are having to find creative ways to provide nutrition care to our residents. We have provided meals to go, take-out options, and even provided delivery to those residents who cannot get to the dining venues. For those residents infected with COVID-19, we have provided easy to consume meals, snacks, or oral nutrition supplements to optimize their nutritional intake to mitigate complications. We continue to find new solutions for our residents, including physical activity, while many options are limited at this time.

    The answers continue to be knowledge and balance. I always encourage seniors to eat a healthy diet, focusing on fruits and vegetables, while including lean protein; and to limit fried foods and foods high in sugar and fat. Food should work for them, not the other way around. I also encourage daily physical activity, which has become more difficult during the pandemic. You must get creative and find ways to continue to be active while maintaining social distancing. Simply going for a walk or sitting less can benefit health.

    In response to COVID-19, we’ve adapted. We’re focusing on supporting person-centered care with specialized nutrition programs, therapeutic dining, and Registered Dietitian consultations to ensure our residents with diabetes are comfortable and enjoy the exceptional experience they deserve.

    Looking for a comforting and diabetes-friendly recipe? Check out our White Bean Chili recipe.