Your eyesight might not be what it used to be or the dinners that you once made without needing the recipe are harder to remember. As people age, their needs become a little greater, even with things that they once took for granted.
But it is very important, especially as we age, that we be aware of what we are eating. As we close out National Nutrition Month, we want to share 5 tips to help your senior loved one eat healthier:
- Limit Processed Foods: It might seem easy to load up your loved one’s freezer with ‘healthy’ frozen dinners, but those meals are likely loaded with salt and sugar. Just because a package says ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean it really is. Instead, make a recipe for your loved one once a week and divide it into single servings that can be heated in the oven or microwave. This way you can control the ingredients and you will know they are healthy.
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables have a lot of vitamins and fiber, are lower in calories, and are generally unprocessed (beware of canned fruits and vegetables). Instead of buying chips and dip, make sure your loved one has plenty of cut up vegetables and hummus or ready-to-eat fruit available.
- Be Wary of Hidden Sugars: They are everywhere – in condiments like BBQ sauce and ketchup to cereals, yogurt and sodas. Find cereal that is low in sugar and get plain yogurt without added sugar. Your loved one can add the cut up fruit (see item 2) to it to give it a great flavor.
Eating too much sugar can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. When you buy packaged food for your loved one, look at the ingredients to see where sugar is listed (keep in mind sugar goes by a lot of names like glucose, high fructose corn syrup, etc). If it is listed at the top, skip it. If it is listed toward the bottom or not at all, it should be okay.
- Be Wary of Salt/Sodium: Even if a product is low in sugar, don’t forget to see how much sodium it has. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure. Instead of using salt as a seasoning, substitute with other herbs and spices to create a great tasting meal that is low in sodium.
- Eat More Whole Grains: Your loved one doesn’t have to skip bread altogether; instead get whole grain instead of white bread. The same holds true for pastas and rice – get whole wheat pasta and brown rice instead of white. As with other processed foods, be wary of products that claim they are whole grain, but they are not.
As with a lot of processed foods, packaging can be misleading. Read the ingredient label to be sure you are getting what you really want for your loved one. If your loved one isn’t eating healthy yet, take these changes one at a time. If done correctly, they may welcome the change. It is never too early to start eating better; healthy habits can last a lifetime.
At Assisting Hands Home Care we can provide your loved one with healthy meals and daily activity to keep their mind and body in as good a condition as possible. Whether you need someone to be with your loved one during the day, in the evening or overnight, we can accommodate your needs. You will sleep better knowing that your loved one isn’t home alone when they need help with medication, fall prevention, personal care, eating or other needs.