Nutrition plays a major role in keeping seniors healthy and improving overall well-being. A healthy diet can guard against numerous health challenges such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease. Ingredients, portions, and smart recipes are all elements of proper senior nutrition–and creating delicious, healthy meals doesn't have to be a hassle!
By following a few simple guidelines, there’s an endless variety of easy and nutritious meals that seniors can make on their own. Read on for some great tips and recipes to manage senior nutrition every day.
BASIC GUIDELINES AND TIPS FOR SENIOR NUTRITION
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), seniors will do best by choosing foods high in nutrients (lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals) and low in calories. A few options include:
- Lean poultry and meat
- Eggs, beans and nuts (preferably unsalted)
- Whole grains
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy (milk, yogurt, kefir)
Other tips include:
- Prepare meatless entrees (or substitute plant-based options)
- Use whole wheat pasta
- Try ancient grains, quinoa, faro, barley, etc.
- Use low-sodium broth for soups
- Use fresh herbs whenever possible
What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do. It’s a good idea to limit or avoid foods that don’t provide much nutrition but add a lot of calories. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, use salt sparingly, and limit alcohol. This does not mean you have to cut out everything you like. In fact, there are some sweet treats that are healthier that are certainly worth trying.
- Scrambled eggs, or egg whites if you’re watching your cholesterol, with diced onions, mushrooms, or chives.
- Fruit, such as sliced apple or pineapple, orange or grapefruit sections, grapes, or melon balls. A dollop of yogurt adds freshness and zest.
- Whole grain toast. Try apple butter, naturally sweetened jam, or a drizzle of honey instead of butter.
- Homemade tuna salad with canola mayo and pine nuts or chopped cashews for added texture. Add curry seasoning for extra flavor. Serve as an open-faced sandwich or as a salad.
- Green leafy salad with your favorite vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, olives, and avocado.
- Homemade soup with vegetable or chicken stock, then add your favorite vegetables and seasonings. Potatoes add a nice thickening texture, and squash or fresh corn adds a sweetening factor.
- Baked or broiled chicken breast (skinless) or fish filet such as tilapia, salmon or tuna. Season with a squeeze of lemon and herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
- Potato, yam or squash, either baked or broiled with an entrée like fish or chicken. Baking them together in tinfoil will preserve the flavors and speed the cooking time.
- Steamed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, beets, spinach or kale. Choose different combinations for variety and rounded nutrition.
- Mayo Clinic: The recipes featured on Mayo Clinic's website include a variety of foods such as appetizers, breads, beverages, main dishes and desserts. Plus, they offer a free e-newsletter and other resources for healthy eating.
- EatingWell: EatingWell has quick and easy heart-healthy dinner recipes including chicken or turkey, meals, hearty soups and salads, and even deconstructed lasagna.
- Delish: Delish features 70 heart-healthy recipes that you will look forward to eating! Choose from recipes for breakfast, lunches, snacks and more.
- Sage Minder: With seniors specifically in mind, Sage Minder has a great list of soups, refreshing and nutritious drinks, dips, and more. All of their recipes are easy to prepare and feature smaller batches, typically 2-4 servings.
These resources offer a great foundation to build from, however, it is recommended to consult with your doctor to make sure you construct a meal plan that meets your nutritional needs. Enjoy filling your body with delicious and nutritious foods. Bon appétit!