For seniors that live alone, it can be difficult to get all of their nutrition needs met. Caregivers can aid in the cooking, shopping, and meal planning to help ensure seniors are eating healthy and receiving the proper nutrients they require. It is important to help seniors be mindful of what they are eating to ensure they are getting the right nutrients in the right proportions. As a caregiver, there are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you are helping create a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
Following the My Plate guidelines is a great way to ensure meals are balanced and healthy for senior’s nutritional needs. This guide suggests making half of the plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains, and a quarter protein. Other tips to keep in mind include keeping as many grains as possible whole grains, varying vegetables, focusing on whole fruits, and variety with protein sources. Creating plates with a variety of colors and foods will ensure seniors get all the nutrients they need.
When choosing protein sources aim for lean meats, eggs, seafood, and beans. Replace red meat with fish or white meat. These options are easier to prepare, consume and have high nutrients. For seafood, options such as salmon and trout are high in omega 3s and have beneficial fatty acids. Meat options include chicken, 93% lean ground beef, and pork loin for lean and low-fat choices.
The healthiest options are whole foods such as fruits and vegetables however packaged snacks can be a convenient option. When shopping for prepackaged snacks read through the nutrition label. Aim for options low in sugars, fats, and sodium. Try to steer clear from fried foods and options high in sugar such as chips, donuts, cookies, and sugary beverages. These items are calorically high with little nutritional value.
Ensuring that seniors are drinking enough water is crucial to their wellbeing and overall health. Encouraging water, tea, and coffee with little cream and sugar are great options to encourage hydration. Other options such as infusing water with berries, cucumber, or citrus can make water more flavorful and enjoyable.
My Plate has a great recipe library for health-conscious meal ideas. Their website includes recipes for dinner, desserts, breakfast, and lunch. Searches can be refined by price, food groups, cooking equipment, and more. This is a great place to start meal planning to find enjoyable and healthy meal options high in necessary nutrients.
For more information on providing nutritious food for seniors check out these resources: