Senior Eating TipsMay 28, 2019
Eating well at home can be a challenge for many different types of people especially seniors. One solution is to turn to convenience foods such as premade frozen meals, canned soups, sandwiches and fast food combos. Although these foods provide flavor, calories and some nutrients they are seriously lacking in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also provide too much sodium, fat, sugar and man-made, inorganic chemicals. But what’s a person to do with little time to prep whole foods for a busy family every week when tasks like getting the laundry caught up is almost impossible? On the other end of the spectrum – why put forth so much effort prepping and cooking for just one person like a widowed retiree?
Here are some expert tips to help solve this problem:
Packaged Grain Mixes
Whole grains are an excellent choice for health. In the noodle and rice section of the grocery store, there are paper packets or boxes of grains that come with little spice packets for flavoring. There are a variety to choose from including quinoa, brown rice, cous cous, wild rice and so on. These small grain packages make an easy and healthy base for seniors to build a balanced meal upon.
Grain mix packets are also a great choice for a side meal. Try using half the seasoning packet to reduce sodium—don’t worry, the flavor will still be there. Also try adding protein by mixing in grilled chicken, beans, tofu, eggs or nuts for crunch. You can also increase the nutrient profile and add more fiber by including fresh vegetables to your grains. Try incorporating some frozen mixed vegetables, roasted vegetables, or fresh greens like spinach. At Pisgah Valley, the resident gardens are lush with different types of greens for picking this time of the year for adding to a meal such as this one.
Canned or Boxed Soup
Warm soup is always a comforting and healthy choice, right? Not always. The main concern with pre-made soups is sodium and that can be a problem for a lot of seniors. With that said, if you suffer from high blood pressure or retain fluid, opt for the low sodium or no added sodium soups. One other concern with eating only boxed or canned soups in regards to providing good nutrition to seniors is without other additional ingredients there is a lack of calories, protein and fiber. So how can we turn that canned soup into a healthy and substantial meal?
- Add a bag of microwave steamed vegetables such as California blend, peas, or any other favorite vegetables you know you’ll eat.
- Mix in a can of low sodium beans for more fiber and protein.
- Serve the soup on top of 1/2 cup of whole grain rice, cous cous or quinoa.
- Also try to eliminate sodium contents by adding a little water to dilute the liquids in the soup.
Pisgah Valley offers at least two fresh soups daily in the Villa Terrace Dining Room for residents.
Sandwiches are reliable because of their versatility and easy preparation. The only problem with sandwiches is they can become the plain old meat and cheese combo with very little fiber or nutrients, or it can settle the sweet tooth by becoming a peanut butter and jelly with very little nutrients as well. Here’s how to make a sandwich a winning meal:
- Use 100% whole wheat bread and avoid plain white bread. By looking at the ingredients label, choose a bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.
- Swap deli meats with crunchy vegetables such as sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots or sliced peppers. Add different types of lettuce and even sprouts for extra texture.
- Swap mayonnaise for spread avocado or hummus. Opting for mustard over mayonnaise is even slightly healthier with a bold flavor.
- Use whole berries or bananas with peanut butter rather than plain jelly for added fiber and nutrients. Peanut butter on toast with sliced strawberries is sure to settle that sweet tooth and provide some good, easy nutrition all at the same time!
By incorporating some of these tips into the weekly meal routine, seniors can create healthy and easy meals with the added bonus of not breaking the bank; all important aspects of life for during the retirement years.