As we age, eating becomes more difficult for a variety of reasons including oral issues, loss of appetite, inability to grocery shop or prepare food, or even changing taste buds and food preferences. But as we get older, it becomes more important than ever to replenish our body with healthful foods to support everything from cell function to proper sleep and sustainable energy levels. The fact is, many of our clients initially reach out to us because cooking and eating have become more of a burden, rather than an enjoyable experience. That’s why we sat down with our caregivers to discuss healthy swaps and ways to improve nutrition for seniors.
Join us as we cover three easy and sustainable ingredient swaps to make mealtime happier and healthier:
Tip #1 – Incorporate Cauliflower!
It sounds like a strange swap, but cauliflower can make a wonderful swap for seniors. This cruciferous vegetable is packed with vitamins C and K and it’s also a great source of folate, which supports cell growth! Cauliflower is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and has fiber to help improve digestion. (Mayo Clinic) It’s also versatile! Try out one of the cauliflower swaps below:
- Choose cauliflower pizza crust with veggies over regular pizza crust to lower the amount of carbohydrates in a meal.
- Cauliflower pasta with veggies, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles are great swaps for regular pasta for an extra dose of fiber and veggies.
- Make a fried rice dish using cauliflower rice as the base and adding lean protein, veggies, and egg for a delicious lower-carb meal. (American Diabetes Association)
Tip #2 – Go for Whole Grains!
Whole grains contain three key components: the bran, the germ, and endosperm, but refined grains like white rice and all-purpose flower have the bran and germ removed. The problem is, that’s where all the healthy stuff is! Whole grains have health-promoting phytochemicals like polyphenols, lignans, and saponins and several types are also good sources of manganese, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, and/or selenium. In fact, research shows that eating whole grains daily can help reduce risk for cancers. (American Institute for Cancer Research)
Adding fiber to your diet can also help with managing blood glucose levels, which is important for proper insulin production and release. We recommend trying to include at least one source of fiber at every meal by swapping refined grains like white bread, white pasta, and white rice, with whole grains. (American Diabetes Association) Try swapping out refined grains with some of these options instead:
- Change from white bread to whole grain bread.
- Choose brown rice, quinoa, or barley instead of white rice.
- Try having whole-grain crackers instead of water crackers when you’re having a snack.
- If you like baking, try swapping white flour for whole grain flours such as whole meal flour. There are a lot of exciting recipes out there to help, like this everyday whole grain bread recipe from King Arthur Baking!
- Switch out those white bread dinner rolls to multigrain bread rolls (MindFood)
Tip #3 – Incorporate More Healthy Fats!
Lowering cholesterol is an important step in improving heart health, but it’s not always easy changing eating patterns. There are many ways you can optimize your diet for better cholesterol levels, but we suggest starting with a few easy swaps to get you on the right path! We recommend moving away from meat and animal byproducts in small ways, to limit your saturated fat intake. Try a few of these basic swaps to get started:
- Use olive or avocado oil instead of butter for a few recipes.
- Try to make one dinner a week meatless. By reducing your intake of animal proteins, you can reduce inflammation in your body.
- The next time you’re out to eat, choose fish instead of steak. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain heart-healthy fats.
- Add spinach or kale to smoothies or soups to increase your vegetable intake.
(American Diabetes Association)
Getting Help with Grocery Shopping and Meal Preparation
There are times when limited mobility or loss of fine motor skills can really prevent people from cooking and eating the way that they used to. Ensuring seniors receive proper nutrition is one of the main reasons older people move into assisted living facilities, but, if you want to stay at home, you should consider getting the help of a non-medical caregiver. At ameriCARE, our care teams help our clients with everything from running errands and selecting groceries, to meal planning and food preparation to ensure they have access to healthful food at all times. If you’d like some extra help to stay at home longer, give us a call and we can build your care plan together!