For many older adults, it is often not a matter of eating too much, but rather not enough. While eating healthy is important for everyone, getting adequate nutrition is especially crucial for seniors whose bodies require certain foods to promote good health.
Loss of appetite or interest in food is not uncommon in the elderly and can happen for a variety of reasons such as a medical condition, mental health problem, or as a side effect of taking certain medications.
In recognition of National Nutrition Month® this March, Alliance Homecare’s collaborative partner is offering up tips to combat malnutrition, encourage healthy food intake and overall eating enjoyment in older adults:
Spice it up with more flavor: If a pureed diet isn’t necessary, simply adding more flavor to food with different herbs and spices can really improve the palatability and excitement of a dish. For instance, instead of chicken simply sautéed with garlic and onion, bake the chicken with rosemary and paprika to boost the flavor profile.
Smart smoothies: Smoothies can be colorfully vibrant and nutritious! They’re also ideal for seniors who may sometimes have challenges getting in a wide variety of nutrients or are on a pureed-style diet. Try making a smoothie that includes healthy fat, fiber, serving of fruit, and protein so it is well balanced. An example would be 1 cup frozen berries, a handful of spinach, 1/4 avocado, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, and a hemp or whey protein powder.
Make food look pretty: Presentation is key. Add color and plate the food in a way that’s presentable and exciting. This alone can often be enough to entice someone to eat. Oftentimes, particularly puree consistency food can be plated in a way that is unappetizing – adding more to the plate than just beige food (i.e. pureed chicken) and white food (i.e. pureed mashed potato) could really help improve intake just from making the food look more beautiful.
Try substituting mashed sweet potato instead of white, or add a side of pureed greens. Make dessert parfait style with pureed berries and creamy peanut butter layered into Greek yogurt. Colorful pureed soups can also be a great option in serving a more enticing dish — butternut squash is a great example, and avocado can be added for creaminess and extra healthy fats and calories, without really changing the flavor at all!
For someone who does not need puree, a turkey bean chili can be great because the different consistencies produce a nice mouthfeel and you can top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sliced avocado and an herb like parsley to make it extra exciting.
Socializing when eating: This makes eating fun! Oftentimes, someone who is less inclined to eat will eat more when surrounded by others doing the same. Many people feel uncomfortable being watched while eating. Eating together takes the pressure off and makes it a more enjoyable experience!
The benefits of socializing in older adults are many, and what better place to socialize than around the table? Just a few weeks away is St. Patrick’s Day – a great opportunity to enjoy some socialization with family, friends or a caregiver and eat a bit of decadent corned beef and cabbage. Everything in moderation!
It’s important to remember that these are general recommendations, and it is crucial for each individual to meet with their doctor and dietitian to determine the best choices. Some suggestions may not be appropriate based on medications, past medical history or other reasons.
At Alliance Homecare, we recognize the tremendous impact nutrition has on a client’s overall health. If you or someone you love could benefit from nutritional counseling, contact Alliance Homecare at (877) 687-7380 to speak with our expert Care Managers today.