Does your aging loved one have a favorite meal that they request when they are feeling sick, sad or anxious? Many adults turn to comfort food when they are seeking a special meal to make them feel better. Comfort food is usually associated with someone’s childhood, cultural heritage or other nostalgic event. The food is a fast way to soothe negative emotions or boost someone’s mood. When elderly loved ones are experiencing some stress or sadness, comfort foods can be a great way to generate positive feelings and deal with emotional stress.
The bad news is that many comfort foods are high in calories or other unhealthy elements, making them pretty unhealthy if seniors turn to them repeatedly. In fact, unhealthy comfort food may be a key factor in overall obesity rates in the United States. As a family caregiver, you can indulge your elderly loved one’s desire for comfort food yet still keep the meal healthy and hearty.
Here are 5 common comfort foods that can also be healthy for seniors when prepared with fresh ingredients and a few nutritious upgrades:
1. Meat and Potatoes
The combination of savory meat and soft potatoes has roots in almost every home, whether it is meat loaf and mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie, beef stew or some other casserole. Choose the leanest meat and watch the salt and cheese portions to keep this winning dinner heart healthy.
2. Eggs and Toast
Eggs have a universal appeal, whether served scrambled, hard boiled or over easy. When combined with toast, the vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and more all combine to create a very healthy meal. To keep calories down and nutrients up, prepare the eggs with minimal butter and choose whole wheat toast.
3. Soups and Stews
Especially on cold days, soups and stews have a way of hitting the spot. Elderly loved ones may prefer dishes like the classic chicken noodle soup and vegetable beef stew. Or, they may crave dishes from their own or other cultures like egg drop soup, borscht, mutton stew and miso soup. Homemade soups and stews will have fresher ingredients, lower sodium and better taste than canned or processed versions.
4. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Is there a food with more sentimental value attached to it than a grilled cheese sandwich? Crisp bread and melted cheese appeals to just about any palate. To increase its nutritious content, consider adding slices of lean turkey or chicken and using whole wheat bread.
With endless combinations of noodles, sauce and delicious additions, pasta is definitely among the top comfort foods. Think of combinations like chicken alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, ravioli, carbonara, beef stroganoff, and lasagna. Again, homemade sauces will go a long way to reduce sodium and other processed ingredients. Whole wheat noodles will also increase the nutritional content of any pasta dish.
When aging loved ones are going through a stressful time, or they simply want to enjoy some of their
favorite dishes, family caregivers don’t have to trade nutrition for flavor. These and other hearty and healthy comfort foods can benefit an elderly loved one’s mind and body.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Leesburg, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.