Eating Well -Tips for Seniors
Updated: Jul 30
Nutrition is a vital component to anyone’s health regimen, and especially for the elderly. Even though this is known, it’s not always that simple to eat well. Preparing healthy meals takes a lot of time and preparation. Gathering good ingredients, preparing the kitchen for cooking, cooking the meal, and then washing up is a lot of work for each meal. That’s what makes quick granola bars or store bought muffins always seem like such a good idea. They’re quick, already made, and require minimal clean up. But relying too heavily on store bought, premade foods can have negative side effects on our body and the nutrition it requires. Seniors especially should be encouraged to eat a variety of foods that offer the vitamins, protein, and important nutrients required for their overall health, as well as aiding against particular health conditions. Below are some food options and tips to ensure that the seniors in your life are eating well.
Don’t Rush Your Meals
The pace at which you eat can impact how much you eat, and consequently, how much weight you might gain. Our appetites, the amount we eat, and how full we feel from eating are controlled by hormones. It’s these hormones that act as signals in the brain that tell it when you’re hungry or when you’re full. But it takes nearly 20 minutes for your brain to receive and interpret these hormonal messages. So, eating too fast might mean you actually eat beyond being full but your brain simply hasn’t gotten the message yet.
Slowing down the pace of eating will lessen the amount of calories you consume and help keep any weight gain under control. Eating slowly is also linked to chewing our food more thoroughly and this helps your digestive system not have to work as hard for every meal.
Stay clear of highly and ultra-processed foods
Highly processed foods, sometimes referred to as ultra-processed foods, are foods that have been changed from their original form and through the process have lost many of their original nutrients. Nutrients and other ingredients are then added at some later stage in the processing usually with the addition of extra sodium and sugars.
And while it may seem okay because “the nutrients are added back anyways”, the truth is that we lose a range and diversity of nutrients when we eat foods processed the same way. Some examples of processed foods are things like hot dogs, frozen pizzas, boxed dinners, white rice, white bread and even deli meats.
When Thirsty, Choose Water
Water is an essential nutrient required for our bodies and not getting enough of it will have cascading effects on our health. Not only does it promote our health but it does so without the addition of any calories.
Avoid sugary drinks as it’s incredibly easy to drink empty calories and increase our weight gain without even noticing. Most “soft” drinks and flavored coffees are simply sugar calories and add little to no nutritional value. What’s more, with each of these drinks that we introduce into the body, we task our body that much more to flush it out.
Even fruit juice is to be avoided as much as possible. Yes, that also refers to 100% fruit juice. Though fruit juice may indeed come from fruits and offer some of the vitamins and minerals of the fruit, it has way more sugar than a fruit would and far less of the fiber our body requires. If you have a craving for apple or orange juice, it's best to just drink some water and eat the fruit instead.
Meal Plan and Cook Ahead
As we mentioned, eating well can take a lot of time and effort and not everyone has the time of day to prepare and cook 3 healthy meals a day, everyday. One fantastic tip to overcome this is to plan and cook some meals ahead of time.
For example, maybe you really like burrito bowls but hate the idea of making all of the ingredients every day. You can make a large batch of burrito bowl ingredients and place multiple servings into freezer safe containers and freeze the portions you’re not ready to eat yet. Then, throughout the week you can simply grab one of the servings from the freezer and heat it up using your preferred method.
With this plan, you gain the quickness of “fast food” without sacrificing any of the vital nutrients and wholesome ingredients that you simply wouldn’t get when ordering out.
Here at Christian Companions, we know how important nutrition is to maintaining and improving senior health. That’s why our professional caregivers offer meal planning and grocery related services to ensure the senior in your life is eating well. Reach out to us today if you feel you might benefit from our aging in place caregiving services in the Houston area.