Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reasons why healthy eating is so important for the Seniors you serve

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Here are some reasons why healthy eating is so important for the Seniors you serve


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 mealtimes, 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 neighbors 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 day care centers provide both companionship and nutritious meals for seniors who are isolated and lonely, or unable to prepare their own meals. See Helpguide’s Adult Day Care Centers: A Guide to Options and Selecting the Best Center for Your Needs for more information.
Senior meal programs are a great way to meet others. Contact your local Senior 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 flavor enhancers such as olive oil, vinegar, garlic, onions, ginger, and spices.

Difficulty chewing
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.

Dry mouth
Drink 8 -10 glasses of water each day. Period. 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.

Meals on Wheels
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, for whatever reason. Meals on Wheels: Find a Local Program is a searchable database that allows you to find a Meals on Wheels program in your area.

Senior nutrition: 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. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make “do-able” even easier.
Set the 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.

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