As we near the end of National Nutrition Month, we thought it was appropriate to address the topic of making smart food decisions for seniors. It’s important to make healthy food choices at any age, but especially important for the elderly as their health begins to be more fragile. Following these simple tips will help you make better decisions to help you feel your best!
First, drink plenty of liquids. Staying hydrated is very important and as you age you may lose your sense or desire of thirst. You should drink lots of water, but you can also drink low-fat or fat-free milk and 100% juice to stay hydrated. You should avoid or limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salts. Some fun tricks to staying hydrated is adding fruits to water. Our all-time favorite is a combination of mint and lemon or strawberries and basil. You might want to consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to take a sip every hour.
Plan healthy meals. By planning in advance, you’ll avoid making poor food decisions when you get hungry. Plan a nutritious menu in advance and stick to it. Don’t end up at the buffet or fast food restaurant where you’re going to load up on empty calories and make poor choices. Not able to meal plan? Try a healthy food delivery service. A local and delicious option is a Mindful Kitchen in Arlington Heights: https://amindfulkitchen.com/. Also, Freshly is a staff favorite for fresh pre-made entrees: https://www.freshly.com/ (email us for promo code).
Know how much to eat. As we get older, we become more sedentary, so our caloric requirements become lower. Basically, the less we move, the less food we need. We are taught from an early age to finish the food on our plates. This can be extremely unhealthy, especially when we are eating out. When you are dining out, ask for a to-go box, and pack half the meal to-go before taking the first bite, that way you won’t be tempted to eat the whole plate!
Many older adults find that their teeth and gums become more tender with age. Don’t let that prevent you from getting the nutrients you need! Try cooked or canned foods like unsweetened fruits, canned veggies, low-sodium soups, and canned tuna.
Use lots of herbs and spices. As you age, favorite foods may seem to lose their flavor. Perhaps your sense of smell, your sense of taste, or even both, have changed. Medicines can also change your ability to taste foods. You can improve the flavor of your meals with herbs and spices.
Make sure you eat safe foods. As you get older, a food-related illness becomes a much greater concern, as what once was a nuisance could now become life-threatening. Throw out food that might not be safe. Avoid certain foods that are always risky for an older person, such as unpasteurized dairy products. Other foods can be harmful to you when they are raw or undercooked, such as eggs, sprouts, fish, shellfish, meat, or poultry.
Finally, talk with your doctor about your vitamin and mineral levels. They can do blood tests to check your levels to ensure that you are healthy. If they notice that you are deficient in anything, they will recommend a change in your diet or suggest that you take a dietary supplement. It’s also important to note that some dietary supplements can interfere with medications, so you should always talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements.
As we get older, taking care of our health becomes increasingly more important, but that doesn’t mean it needs to get harder. Hopefully, you can use these tips in your everyday life to make smart decisions in eating healthy. For Papa’s Sake can assist with meal prep and cooking to ensure you are eating healthy and getting the nutrients needed for your diet. Give us a call at (847) 873-0234 to discuss your dietary needs and see how we can help.