Whether you’re a candidate for a Food Network show or someone who needs help making spaghetti, it’s important to practice good nutritional habits. Nutrition plays an important role in our health, particularly as we age. Did you know that after the age of 30 we begin to lose 3-5% of our muscle mass each decade? Human muscle undergoes constant changes and proper nutrition coupled with exercise can help prevent muscle loss, weakness, immobility, falls and fractures. There are multiple causes of muscle loss in older adults including hormones, diet, exercise and genetics, which can lead to loss of tissue.
We’ve rounded up a handful of practical solutions to increase your nutrition at home or in an assisted living or memory care community.
Participate in Meal Prep
We’re not talking about preparing meals in advance to eat at a later date (although that’s a fantastic approach to nutrition) but rather being present in the prep process of meals in the kitchen. This isn’t an option for all older adults but if you or a loved one is able to participate in the kitchen at home or with family, meal preparation can increase appetite through sight and smell. Incorporating simple measures to increase our appetites is imperative as we age since appetite loss is very common in older adults. Making our own food rather than grabbing something to go or eating a frozen pre-packaged meal also gives us the opportunity to incorporate a greater variety of food options into our diet which is especially important for our nutrition. Plus, it’s a great way to curb boredom in our meal choices.
Enjoy Meals with Others
While COVID-19 has made eating with friends and family more difficult there are still viable ways to enjoy meals with family and friends. If you live in a warmer climate, eating outside at a safe social distance may be an option. We encourage you to follow the guidelines on outdoor dining set forth by your local health authorities. You can also establish a schedule where family and friends meet once or twice a week to dine together via video.
Increase Food Variety + Enhance Flavor
Adding new varieties of fruits, vegetables and grains into your diet is a great way to rev up your appetite. If you find yourself bored by the same meals day in and day out we suggest subscribing to a meal prep kit or weekly fresh produce subscription. Most of the subscription services allow you to skip weeks or put your service on hold which is a valuable option if you’re planning on leaving town or if you find yourself with an abundance of food that you don’t want to go to waste. Don’t forget you can always try a new spice or seasoning on your go-to dishes to really pump up the variety factor.
Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to various health problems, including cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer”, which is why it’s a critical addition to a healthy lifestyle. Of course, you should talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement into your daily regimen. A daily dose of Vitamin D is a simple and practical approach to increasing your daily healthy habits and coupled with a nutritious diet it’s a win-win!
Know Your Fats
As we age we are often told to increase our protein and “healthy fat” intake. For many an increase in protein is a simple and effective measure against unintended weight loss. That said, it’s important to know your facts and choose protein-rich options that are low in saturated and trans fat. A few great snacking options rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated (good fats) include nuts, avocados, seeds and fish. Don’t forget to use vegetable oils when cooking and preparing foods such as avocado and olive oil.
Easy Access Snacks
Always having healthy snacking options on hand is critical in making good decisions between meals. It’s also important that these snacks are packaged in an easy-to-open and easily accessible location that makes snacking easy and convenient. Washed fruits and vegetables cut to snacking size in the fridge are a great option as well as nuts and seeds that are in easy open packaging. Protein shakes are also a great in-between meal snacking option for those needing to boost their protein intake.
At Prestige Senior Living, we know the importance of delicious, nutritious dining with a variety of tastes and flavors. If you’re thinking of making the move to Prestige, you can look forward to restaurant-quality meals featuring a wide variety of foods. Contact the location nearest you to find out more about their dining services.