Preparing Healthy Meals While Aging in Place

Proper nutrition is important at all stages of life, but especially for senior citizens, for whom eating well can mean better health, mitigation of chronic ailments and overall longevity. Here, the aging-in-place specialists at Avila Home Care details ways for seniors to create healthy and delicious meals.

Increase Hydration

As we age, our body has a more difficult time staying hydrated, and some of us also experience a dulled sense of thirst. This makes it doubly important to stay adequately hydrated—the traditional standard is eight, eight-ounce, glasses of water a day. But remember that there are other ways of getting hydration—soup, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy are all ways to eat your way to proper hydration.

Reduce Salt Intake Without Losing Flavor

Many senior citizens must watch their blood pressure, and consequently salt intake, but that doesn’t mean meals should be bland and tasteless. Onion, garlic, pepper, herbs, cooking wine and vinegar are just a few of the ways to add delicious flavor to meals without using excessive amounts of salt. Premixed spice blends, such as Mrs. Dash, make seasoning food easy. And remember that there is no need to forego salt entirely—our bodies do require sodium to function—but always follow your medical professional’s advice on sodium intake.

Choose Soft, Moist Foods

It can become more difficult to chew and swallow as we get older: soups, stews, and slow cooker meals can be great ways to eat well while saving wear and tear on delicate gums, teeth and dentures. Also try sautéing or microwaving raw veggies to soften them—these cooking methods won’t degrade valuable nutrients.

Pick Healthy Fats

Contrary to previous belief, nutritional fat is not the enemy, and picking the right fats is key to good health. Olive, almond, coconut and grapeseed oils, among others, are great ways to get heart-healthy fats in your diet. Avocadoes, fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel and sardines) and nuts are other wonderful ways to consume good fats—they will also fill you up, preventing midday cravings.

Substitute Processed Sweets for Natural Ones

It can be hard to quell a sweet tooth, and for many seniors, sweetness is the strongest flavor the taste buds can detect. However, research has shown the dangers of a high-sugar diet, leading to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high HDL plus low LDL cholesterol, among other concerns. Substituting processed sweets for natural ones can be difficult at first, but after a time your palate will become adjusted to subtly sweet foods, and highly sweetened treats will be off-putting. Summer is a wonderful time to take advantage of fresh fruit: plums, nectarines, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and peaches are just a few of the options available during the summer months. In the winter, opt for frozen fruits, or citrus fruits and bananas.

Some spices and flavorings, such as cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond extract and ginger, can add a sweetness without the calories. There are also sugar alternatives, such as monk fruit extract or stevia, but always do proper research on sugar substitutes to ensure they are a healthy choice.

Let Avila Homecare Help You Plan for Aging in Place

Your golden years should be a time of relaxation and fun—wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who can help with the chores, like cooking? At Avila Home Care, our dedicated homecare staff can help create healthy, delicious meals for you, all in the comfort of your own home, giving you time to enjoy your retirement fully. We are excited to create a wonderful working relationship with you—contact us today for more information! 

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