August 1st, 2018
We’re all familiar with the expression “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” It’s a given that good nutrition is important for any age group. But seniors in particular face more challenges than most when it comes to eating properly because while caloric needs decrease with age, nutrient needs remain the same or even increase. So in order to maintain strength and energy while managing chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, our elderly loved ones need to perform a high-wire trapeze act when it comes to balancing proper levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
To help keep the doctor at a preferred distance, it’s recommended that seniors plan out quick and nutritious meals in advance, making sure that breakfasts, lunches and dinners are all sufficiently covered, as well as energy-boosting snack-times. Just remember that if grocery shopping or cooking have become problematic, aging family members may require assistance in those areas as well.
With that said, here’s a “round-the-clock” guide to planning a menu that’s delicious, healthful – and even fun to prepare!
Breakfast is commonly referred to as the most important meal of the day, and eating a well-balanced meal in the morning is the perfect way to power up and start things out on a healthy note. A variety of nutrients is especially vital, so breakfast choices should include a good source of protein, a high-fiber whole grain, dairy foods for extra calcium, plus at least one serving of fruit for an immune system boost. Tip: canned fruit packed in water or frozen fruit (like berries) which can be quickly thawed in the microwave are both ways to help make meeting your morning nutritional needs easier.
Recommended breakfast foods include:
*Warm oatmeal and berries
*A hard-boiled or poached egg
*Whole grain pancakes or waffles
*Whole grain toast (ideally with peanut or almond butter)
Because appetite levels can vary greatly at mid-day, lunch can be the perfect time to focus on vegetables. Whether they’re raw, leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, or even frozen veggies you heat in the microwave, vegetables are a great way to add plenty of nutrients and fiber to your diet. Not too hungry? Substitute a snack, such as veggies (or fruit) with cottage cheese, or an English muffin topped with tomato and cheese. Tip: whether you choose a meal or a snack, top things off with a glass of milk – perfect for maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels!
Recommended lunch choices include:
*Salad with tuna, beans or chopped egg
*Veggie leftovers tossed with brown rice and feta cheese
*Salmon wrap (made easy with canned salmon)
By the end of the day, energy levels can be ebbing rather than flowing, so cooking may no longer be at the top of your “to-do” list. To make sure dinner doesn’t become a chore, seniors may choose to make lunch a bigger meal and eat lighter at dinner (a turkey, tuna or egg sandwich can fit the bill here). But if you don’t want to lessen your evening meal, start cooking extra for dinner – and have enough left over for your next dinner! Tip: everyone loves dessert, and for a healthy one that won’t make you too full, top off your dinner with a serving of yogurt.
Recommended dinner choices:
*Baked or grilled salmon
*Shrimp and pasta
*Liver and onions (or fennel)
*Beans and rice
*Southwest chicken salad
It’s not only important to eat healthy at mealtime. To make sure you remain energetic – and healthy – without spoiling your appetite, you should also ensure that snacking habits are healthy and nutritional. So rather than stocking your pantry and refrigerator with processed snacks that may be high in salt and fat, try to have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies on hand for easy eating.
Other recommended foods for snacking:
*Canned fruits (preferably in water)
*Canned tuna (or in pouches)
*Hot or cold cereals
*Brown rice or quinoa