When we’re young, we feel invincible — and often eat like it. Fast food, soda, and sugary snacks may have been our dietary staples. The healthy eating choices we make as we age will support health and well being for the long term, and help prevent the onset of serious illness.
A health-supportive diet can help ward off illness, maintain mental alertness, and keep us physically active, whether we live at home or in a senior living community such as The Kensington Sierra Madre, where 5-star dining is one of our hallmarks.
But “healthy eating” doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a slice of pizza or piece of chocolate cake ever again! It’s the choices you make day to day that will support your health and well being for the long term.
How Nutritional Needs Change As We Age
- Metabolism. Every year after age 40, our metabolism slows down, so if seniors continue to eat the same amount and kinds of food as when they were younger, they’re likely to gain weight. It’s more important to eat foods that are nutrient-dense rather than calorie-dense.
- Digestion. Older adults generate less saliva and stomach acid, making it more difficult for their bodies to process certain vitamins and minerals such as B12, B6, and folic acid, which are necessary to maintain mental alertness, memory, and good circulation.
- Thirst. Awareness of thirst decreases with age, so it’s easy for a senior to become dehydrated — which makes digestion and elimination more difficult, and affects mental acuity.
- Lifestyle Changes. Loneliness and depression can affect appetite. For some people, depression reduces appetite; in others, feeling lonely or sad may trigger overeating.
Nutrition Guidelines for Older Adults
As a rule of thumb, seniors need to make dietary choices that are:
- Low in fat and sodium, high in fiber and calcium, with a moderate calorie content
- Flavorful, so you’ll look forward to mealtimes
- Easy to chew, swallow and digest
- Simple to prepare
- Appealing to the eye as well as the palate.
These choices are easier to implement than you might think. Here are six protein, carb, and fat tips to help you eat well:
- Curb the carbs. Make carbohydrates a small part of each meal rather than the centerpiece. Opt for whole grain nutrition (brown rice, whole wheat bread, rolled oats, barley, millet, quinoa) rather than refined products such as white bread, white rice, or products made with white flour.
- Raw equals roughage! Aim to eat at least one daily serving of your fruits and vegetables raw. This not only preserves their nutritional value, but it’s also an easy way to eliminate constipation. Raw fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to aid digestion. The chewing action is also good for your teeth and gums. If you have difficulty biting or chewing, cut your fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Or use a grater to grate your vegetables onto a green salad.
- Choose hydrating foods. In addition to drinking enough filtered water each day, aim to consume foods with high water content. Staying properly hydrated flushes toxins from your body relieves constipation, helps keep your joints flexible, and your mind clear. High water content foods include cucumbers, lettuce, celery, cabbage, asparagus, watermelon, and grapefruit.
- Go lean on protein. Fish, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, and nuts all count as protein. Try turkey or chicken, or fish such as wild-caught salmon that is baked, broiled, steamed or poached. Aim to eat less red meat, which contains saturated fat, and if you enjoy salty meats such as bacon or ham, make these an occasional treat (if your health profile permits) and not a dietary mainstay.
- Bone up on calcium. All dairy products are not created equal. Milk, cheese, and yogurt retain their calcium content; cream cheese, cream, and butter do not. As part of a healthy senior diet, choose low-fat dairy products. If you’re lactose-intolerant, consider fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir.
- Choose first-rate fats. Get your “good” fats from oils such as olive oil and coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil, nuts and seeds.
Exceptional Dining: The Key to Premier Assisted Living
When someone decides to move to a senior living community, they are entrusting their health and well being to the professionals who are dedicated to serving them.
Because eating well is so important later in life, for both health and socialization, it behooves anyone considering a move to assisted living, for themselves or their loved one, to explore the dining experience at each residence. Active adult communities that want to attract aging Baby Boomers need to meet this generation’s demand for the type of food they’re accustomed to eating in fine restaurants.
Delicious, diverse, fresh, local, and healthy foods are the watchwords at senior living communities today. The emphasis is on a dining experience on par with a country club or exclusive restaurant. Thanks to this shift, senior living communities are attracting top chefs — often with senior care expertise — to make this commitment a reality.
The Kensington Fine Dining Experience
Superb menus define the dining experience at our Kensington community. The quality of the food we serve our residents is unsurpassed, and we’re known for accommodating special dietary needs with the freshest possible ingredients.
Here at The Kensington Sierra Madre, we always use the healthiest, most flavorful ingredients available. Dusko Novakovic, our Director of Dining Services, is a passionate foodie who says,
“Whether I am preparing delicious meals or creating new taste sensations with my team, I settle for nothing less than excellence in the quality of ingredients, nutritional integrity, execution, and presentation. When seniors and their families enjoy the results of my culinary expertise, their smiles of satisfaction are my ‘just desserts.'”
We invite you to join us for a meal at The Kensington Sierra Madre soon. Let us please your palate and enchant your dining experience with our elegant presentation, service, and atmosphere.