One of the most important elements of health, especially in older adults, is good nutrition, which is necessary for a strong body. However, preparing nutritious meals that taste good can become a challenge for older adults who have eating difficulties. For such individuals, inadequate nutrition may result in changes in mood, weight loss, and an increase of aggravated health issues.
The tenets of basic nutrition are the same for those who have eating difficulties than those who do not – but the food may need to be prepared differently in order to address the challenges. Here are some tips to help if you are in charge of meals for an elderly loved one.
- Provide a balanced diet with a wide range of foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and lean protein.
- Minimizing the intake of foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol levels.
- Decreasing intake of refined sugars. People are surprised to find that these sugars are in most every type of processed food
- Decreasing the amount of sodium in the diet, and using less salt. An abundance of salt can increase blood pressure, which is a serious risk for the elderly.
Consider a Soft Diet
Soft diets are made up of foods which can be digested easily. They are typically recommended for seniors who may be recovering from surgical procedures or living with other chronic medical conditions. Soft diets are also often prescribed for individuals who have swallowing disorders (dysphagia).
These are some foods that can be incorporated in soft diets
- Vegetables – well cooked green beans, carrots, chopped spinach, broccoli, zucchini
- Fruits – cooked peeled apples, pears and peaches; pureed fruits and applesauce, avocado, bananas
- Eggs – cooked whole eggs, egg whites, egg salad
- Soups –broth-based soups with soft-cooked vegetables
- Grains and starches – mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, cooked cereals, soft noodles
Avoid these Foods in Your Diet
Those with eating difficulties should avoid foods that are hard to chew or digest, as well as very spicy of acidic foods. Here are some more guidelines of foods elderly people with eating difficulties should not ingest:
- Raw vegetables or vegetables with seeds
- Fresh fruits with peels and seeds, or highly acidic fruits like limes and lemons
- Dairy products like hard cheeses
- Deep fried foods
- Nuts or chocolate
- Tough cuts of meat, or whole cuts of meat
- Fried poultry or fish
- Spicy foods like hot peppers or tabasco sauce
- Chewy candies, seeded jellies and jams
- Alcoholic beveragesSenior citizens who eat healthy meals packed with nutrition are more likely to lead happy lives; and to thrive more so than their counterparts who do not. When preparing food for individuals with eating difficulties, opt for soft, easily digestible foods that are healthy. Avoids irritating, hard to chew food items. By investing some additional time and diligence, you can provide the healthy meals your loved one needs.
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