“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”
Let’s face it. There’s a reason why so many seniors have trouble staying on a nutritious diet—it’s not always easy.
The following tips from the Mayo Clinic will help you “speak the language” of good nutrition and help you feel in control.
Say ‘no’ to eating alone
Eating with company can be as important as vitamins.
Think about it—a social atmosphere stimulates your mind and helps you enjoy meals.
When you enjoy meal times, you’re more likely to eat better.
If you live alone, eating with company will take some strategizing, but the effort will pay off.
Make a date to share lunch or dinners with grand children, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbours on a rotating basis.
Join in by taking a class, volunteering, or going on an outing, all of which can lead to new friendships and dining buddies.
Adult daycare centers provide both companionship and nutritious meals for seniors who are isolated and lonely, or unable to prepare their own meals.
Senior meal programs are a great way to meet others. Contact your local seniors’ center, YMCA, congregation or high school and ask about senior meal programs.
Loss of appetite
First, check with your doctor to see if your loss of appetite could be due to medication you’re taking and whether the dosage can be adjusted or changed.
Then let the experimenting begin. Try natural flavour enhancers such as olive oil, vinegar, garlic, onions, ginger and spices.
Make chewing easier by drinking smoothies made with fresh fruit, yogurt and protein powder.
Eat steamed veggies and soft food such as couscous, rice and yogurt.
Consult your dentist to make sure your dentures are properly fitted.
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day.
Take a drink of water after each bite of food, add sauces and salsas to foods to moisten, avoid commercial mouthwash and ask your doctor about artificial saliva products.
I don’t like healthy food
If you were raised eating lots of meat and white bread, a new way of eating might sound off-putting.
Don’t beat yourself up. Eating healthfully is a new adventure. Start with small steps
First and foremost, commit to keeping an open mind.
Try including a healthy fruit or veggie at every meal.
Focus on how you feel after eating well—this will help foster new habits and tastes.
Stuck in a rut
Rekindle inspiration by perusing produce at a farmers market, reading a cooking magazine, buying a new-to-you spice, or chatting with friends about what they eat.
By making variety a priority, you’ll soon look forward to getting creative with healthy meals.
If you can’t shop or cook for yourself…
There are a number of possibilities, depending on your living situation, finances and needs:
Take advantage of home delivery. Many grocery stores have Internet or phone delivery services.
Swap services. Ask a friend, neighbourhood teen or college student if they would be willing to shop for you.
Share your home. If you live alone in a large home, consider having a housemate/companion who would be willing to do the grocery shopping and cooking.
Hire a homemaker. Try to find someone who can do the shopping and meal preparation for you.
Meals on Wheels provides nutritious meals to people who are homebound and/or disabled, or would otherwise be unable to maintain their dietary needs.
The daily delivery generally consists of two meals: a nutritionally balanced hot meal to eat at lunch time and a dinner, consisting of a cold sandwich and milk along with varying side dishes.
Generally, Meals on Wheels is available to those persons who are not able to provide for themselves.
Tips for staying on track
Healthy eaters have their personal rules for keeping with the program. Here are some to keep in mind.
Ask for help for your health’s sake. Know when you need a hand to make shopping, cooking and meal planning assistance.
Variety, variety, variety—try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes.
Make every meal “do-able.” Healthy eating needn’t be a big production.
Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stock the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices.
Create a mealtime mood. Set the table, light candles, play music, or eat outside or by a window when possible.
Tidying yourself and your space will help you enjoy the moment.
Break habits. If you eat watching TV, try eating while reading. If you eat at the counter, curl up to a movie and a slice of veggie pizza.