I know that I have talked a lot about the importance of nutrition, and I like to post about senior nutrition fairly regularly. The reason why, is that we often let it slide. I myself am guilty of getting on a healthy eating routine, but slowly letting the ‘bad’ things creep in until a few weeks or months down the road I’m back to poor nutrition without realising what I’ve done. For that reason, I like constant refreshers. So it’s time to talk again about boosting elder nutrition!
The reasons for seniors to follow a healthy eating regime are just as abundant as they are for anyone else. Good nutrition leads to a stronger immune system, better energy, improved cognitive function, lower risk of disease, better hormonal balance, and of course, general wellness leading to a happier and longer life. Other incentives specific to health issues include stronger bones, lower cholesterol or blood pressure, healthy skin and hair, and even decreased inflammation and pain.
So let’s review the basic principles of eating healthy, and making it easy for seniors and caregivers. As you read down the list, ask yourself if you are still complying with these nutrition rules:
- Add fresh produce to every meal. If there is no colour on your plate – no good! A side of fruit with breakfast, some salad with lunch, steamed vegetables at dinner, and fruit mixed in with yogurt or ice cream for dessert will round out a healthy day of eating.
- Plan ahead. Don’t get trapped with nothing healthy in the house. That is when we reach for the ‘bad’ cupboard, or even worse, the pre-made frozen meals. That’s not real food! Make sure you plan your meals in advance to ensure that nutrition is always at hand. If you are a caregiver, this can be done once a week by pre-packing all meals of the week for your senior patient.
- Ditch the fakes. White bread and pasta, sweeteners, and ‘diet’ bars, are all mutant foods, far removed from their original form. Try to avoid food that was built in a lab. Go for whole foods – as a general rule, the fewer the items in the ingredient list, the better value the food.
- Be careful of liquid calories. A lot of sugar and calories hide in our drinks. Pop, coffee, alcohol, and even juice are loaded with calories. Also, beware of the ‘diet’ drink trap. These canned beverages are often loaded with ingredients I can’t pronounce – a scary sign!
- Make sure you like it. If you, or the person you are cooking for, hates the healthy food you’re making, don’t bother. Find a new recipe that will work. By forcing ourselves to swallow foods that make us unhappy, we are giving ‘healthy’ food a bad mental image and inadvertently pushing ourselves back to unhealthy foods that we know our tastebuds love. There are tons of ways to prepare healthy food – find the ones that work for you.
You’ve probably heard all of these before, and probably more than once, but it’s always good to check in and make sure we’re still following a healthy eating plan!