How to cook for seniors
By Thiyagarajan Velayutham, Founder, IHHC| June 14th, 2017
How to plan healthy meals that are interesting and exciting
Can you look forward to tasty, healthy food at 60+? As we grow older we tend to get very picky about food. To start with, our appetites decrease with age due to a marked drop in physical activities. We find that our digestive systems are no longer capable of ingesting and digesting all sorts of foods. We are more likely to experience a variety of ailments – ranging from gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome to flatulence, acidity and indigestion.
Quite often, you’ll find that your sense of taste and smell get weaker as you age – leaving you unable to enjoy a whole host of flavours. Dental issues prevent you from chewing food properly, leading to yet more problems with the digestive system. But as you grow older, it’s imperative that you get the correct balance of nutritious food to ensure your physical, mental and emotional well being. Food that will not interfere or in any way interact negatively with medications that the you may be on.
So how do you make sure that the meals that are cooked for you are healthy, balanced, flavoursome and easy to eat?
Good, tasty food that is nutritious and flavourful is not difficult to make. Here are some good ways to make eating more fun for you, while making everyone’s life much easier.
Add flavour without adding salt
There’s a whole array of ingredients and tastemakers that can be used to kick up the excitement quotient in your food – without adding unhealthy salt! Spices, ginger and garlic, herbs and acidic flavours such as vinegar, lemon juice and other (low sodium) sauces will all add a dash of excitement to food.
Easy to eat, easy to digest food: soups and stews
As you grow older, your bodily functions change and deteriorate. You’ll find it hard to swallow and chew…problems caused by reduced saliva, lost teeth and dentures. Moist food that is soft, easy to chew and swallow can go a long way towards keeping you healthy
, happy and satisfied with the food you are getting. Soups and stews, made in slow cookers, save on time and allow for leftovers. Soups also keep you hydrated.
Work out diets in consultation with your caregiver
It is important that you convey your likes and dislikes to your caregiver before setting the menu. Talk it over with him or her. Ask your caregiver to get easy to read recipe books with colourful illustrations to help you both choose interesting and tasty recipes.
Comfort foods will win the day
Appetites tend to shrink as we grow older. You tend to eat in small quantities and, quite often, have to be persuaded. Research in Sweden has shown, that as we grow older, we tend to revert to the comfort foods we used to eat as children. Cooking meals that include these foods, while ensuring the health factor, is a good way to plan a meal.
Choose good fats over bad fats
A heart healthy diet doesn’t mean all fats should be outlawed! The basic idea is to avoid trans-fats and saturated fats, while replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This will increase ‘good’ cholesterol and protect against heart disease. Sources of heart healthy fats include olive oil, oily fish including salmon, sardine and mackerel, avocado, flaxseed, nuts, soy milk and tofu.
Healthy treats: smoothies between meals
It’s quite natural to feel a bit hungry between meals. This is where you can get creative and healthy with smoothies. The latter is particularly good for you. Made from a a blend of fruits and yogurt, they are smooth, sweet, refreshing and easy to swallow. This gives the you a satisfying snack with a significant amount of nutrients… and hydration, as well.
Use naturally sweet foods instead of sugar
As we age, we tend to retain the taste of sweet food much longer than younger adults. Thus, you’ll tend to crave sweet foods and flavours. This problem can be solved by using naturally sweet foods such as fruits, peppers, yams and raisins – to name a few.
So, even with all the limitations that we face as far as food is concerned, using some of these tips will make life much easier for you and your caregivers.