While there’s no one specific solution to remaining healthy as you age, eating a nutritious diet will undoubtedly boost the chances of realizing this goal. Despite being of more importance in older adults, eating this healthy diet isn’t always a walk in the park for most seniors. Regardless, seniors sticking to a healthy diet will help avoid numerous health complications such as obesity, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. If an older adult suffers from any of these ailments, sticking to a nutritious diet lowers the chances of these diseases worsening.
However, one challenge you need to deal with is making healthy food more enjoyable for seniors. Without further ado, here are tips on ways you can realize this goal:
- Make Eating A Social Event
Many seniors find eating by themselves to be quite depressing, and this consequently impacts their appetite. Knowing this, you should ensure an older adult is never alone when eating so they enjoy their meal. They can do this by eating alongside a friend or family member. If the senior is alone, they should head to a nearby local senior center to interact with other older adults while having meals.
However trivial this might seem, taking meals as a social event helps ensure healthy eating for adults to safeguard their overall well-being.
- Encourage Physical Activity
Many seniors usually complain about a lack of appetite. The best way to counter this issue is by encouraging them to partake in any form of physical activity, regardless of how simple this may be. After all, nutrition is greatly interconnected to how you use your energy.
These physical activities can be swimming, cycling, or walking, among others. With their bodies burning calories, they’ll feel a lot hungry much faster than if they remained lazy and idle.
In addition, they enjoy benefits such as maintaining excellent overall health as well as keeping their coordination, balance, and strength.
Ideally, older adults should engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day to have less energy. As a result, they’ll enjoy their meal a lot more than if they didn’t partake in any activity. However, you shouldn’t rush them into an intense workout, but ideally with smaller sessions. You can gradually increase by 10 to 15 minutes. It’s best to consult a health professional to create a physical exercise plan suited for older adults.
- Season Food Using Herbs And Spices
As seniors get older, their taste buds start to lose their flavor. This can also be worsened by using medication that negatively affects both smell and taste, two important senses that help you feel a meal’s flavor. As a result, such older persons are no longer interested in eating healthy foods and taking the right quantity. In addition, they can’t add too much salt to the food to give it some flavor as this is associated with several health ailments.
Fortunately, the use of herbs and spices offers seniors an excellent alternative to make meals tastier and more enticing. Some of the best herbs to use are sage, pepper, rosemary, cayenne, and basil. These will do an excellent job in boosting your meal’s flavor and making the meals a lot more enjoyable for older adults. Other than making the food delicious, most spices are cheap, meaning they fall within the budget of most seniors.
- Schedule Your Meal Times
Hunger is typically the signal that reminds you it’s time to eat. But for seniors, this might not always be the case due to reduced appetite, which worsens with old age. One effective strategy to tackle this issue is by creating a regular eating routine. In the long run, doing this will train their brain to know the right time to send thirst and hunger signals.
By maintaining this eating routine every day, your beloved elderly will become accustomed to the schedule and start looking forward to the meal. As a result, they’ll eat a bigger food portion during mealtimes giving them the needed nutrients and calories to provide them with the much-needed energy.
- Consider Using An Appetite Stimulant
If you have an older adult struggling with severe loss of appetite that’s affecting their weight, you might need to get them an appetite stimulant. The use of the appetite stimulant will help boost the appetite of your older loved one even though it won’t treat the issue that causes loss of appetite.
You must never give a senior this stimulant without a prescription from a physician to ensure they’re compatible with their medication.
- Choose Liquid Meals
Chewing food for many older adults is often a challenge. And because of this, they might opt to avoid meals or lack appetite altogether. In such situations, it’d be best to switch to liquid meals that are much easier to ingest than other options. With this, rest assured that they’d be able to digest food properly.
Some of the best liquid meal options include:
- Healthy smoothies such as full-fat yogurt, bananas, and veggies such as spinach or carrot
- Nutritious soup enhanced with olive oil, veggies, purred meats, and cream
- Hot cocoa
- Healthy soups boosted with olive oil, pureed veggies, meat, or cream
- Full-fat milk
These liquid meals will offer older adults a great source of calories, vitamins, and nutrients.
- Give Older Adults Control
Many seniors don’t have control over several aspects of their life, including what to eat. Because of this lost independence, they tend to become somewhat rebellious. And to regain some control, they resort to refusing certain meals. The best way to tackle such an issue would be by giving older persons the freedom to choose the food they want to eat. As a result, they’ll be more excited to eat a healthy meal and enjoy all its nutritional benefits.
- Increase Nutrient Density
For older adults, their appetite will most likely reduce. Therefore, you shouldn’t focus on increasing the size of their plates or the frequency they eat. Instead, it’s best to give them meals packed with lots of nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, protein, and calcium. Other healthy nutrients to add to their plateful include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, whole-milk dairy products, and nuts to boost calorie count. In addition, don’t give seniors plates filled with food because they often find this intimidating.
- Restrict Fluids During Meals And Serve Water Between Meals
Dehydration among older adults is one of the causes of loss of appetite. With this in mind, you need to ensure they’re well-hydrated at all times. In addition, other liquids help ease the swallowing of food by moistening it. Because of this, you should encourage seniors to drink water in between meals.
With that said, you need to be careful at what time you’re giving the seniors fluids. This is because drinking excess fluids before meals can be counterproductive and cause loss of appetite. Therefore, it’s best to serve older adults with most beverages once they’re done with their meals.
- Minimize Need For Utensils
For many seniors, using utensils such as a fork, knife, and spoon to eat can be a real challenge. Because of this, they might shy away from eating altogether due to fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Knowing this, you should instead opt for meals that they can easily eat without needing any utensils, including:
- Fish sticks
- Chicken nuggets or strips
- Raw or steamed broccoli, cucumber pieces, bell pepper strips, and carrots
Because such meals are less frustrating to eat for seniors, they’ll have a greater appetite and enjoy the meals a lot more.
- Fight Dry Mouth
Because many seniors are under medication, they suffer from dry mouth, which makes them feel uncomfortable, negatively affecting their appetite. Therefore, you need to tackle this issue to boost an elderly person’s appetite by getting them to chew sugarless gum, brush their teeth, or rinse their mouth right before eating.
Doing this will treat the dry mouth by making saliva start flowing and reducing mouth discomfort. This will consequently boost their ability and sense of taste, making the older adult enjoy the meal a lot more.
- Add Nutritional Variety
Eating the same meal over and over again can become quite boring and make you lose your appetite. Knowing this, you need to provide older adults with greater nutritional variety. This is especially crucial, knowing how sensitive seniors can be at times with their diets. Therefore, you should serve meals with varying textures and colors as this helps boost their appetite. With reduced repetition of meals, older adults have a much better time eating healthy food.
Many older adults complain of a reduced appetite due to medication or a diminished sense of taste and smell. But despite this, it’s still important that they eat healthy food; otherwise, their bodies might not have the essential nutrients and energy needed to fight off any infection. Eating a healthy meal also helps avoid weight loss. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you make food a lot more enjoyable for older adults.