Generally after 50, men and women experience different health problems like dental problems, low metabolism, diabetes or other health problems that severely restrict their dietary habits. Change in physiology are known to affect nutritional requirements in a human body.
A typical balanced diet for elders above 65 years of age must have around 1400 and 1800 caloric intake respectively for women and men. senior citizens have to take extra care to ensure their daily diet is rich in proteins and fibers. A controlled amount of fat can provide energy and fresh fruits and vegetables – along with pulses, beans, nuts and seeds provides vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This controlled combination of five major food groups can help senior citizens maintain supreme health and optimum body weight.
About 40 -55% of the calorific need must come from grains and other Carbohydrate sources with proteins at least 25-30 % and good fats about 25-30 %. Moreover, despite of knowing the fact elderly people can lose interest in eating full, healthy balanced meals as they get older. This can have serious, long-term effect on their health and well-being.
Here are 10 top tips to encourage older people to eat:
- Keep hydrated: lack of water can cause appetite suppression. It’s needed for all bodily functions and dehydration is a common problem in the elderly. Frequently prompting drinks, and making drinks more interesting by adding cordial (with very less sugar) call help.
- Keep it saucy: Linked to hydration – depending on individual preferences, elderly people (who may be dehydrated or have swallowing issues) often prefer meals with a sauce (what we call “Rasa” in Hindi ) to soften it and lubricate it’s journey to the stomach. For example, instead of making dry vegetable making it with gravy or watery can encourage elderly people to eat more. 20% of the water intake comes from food.
- Presentation: If food is not appetizing you won’t eat as much. Especially as elderly people can lose acuity of their taste and smell senses, they take more information from the visual cues. Spending some time on how the food looks can make a big difference.
- Location location location: If people have mobility issues, they may be keen to eat in their armchair or in bed. If they can get up, it’s worth encouraging people to sit at the dining table to eat, as this is a better position and allows more defined ‘meal times’ to develop. It can be more sociable and a change of scenery is never a bad thing either!
- Get their teeth and swallowing checked: Maybe they can’t chew properly or are in pain, which is affecting what they can eat. Soft and blended foods are better here.
- Offer a menu: Giving some options will give you information about the sort of thing they most want to eat. you can use this information to tailor the menu to keep in the favorites and get rid of the unloved leftovers in the back of the fridge.
- Keep meals smaller: People’s appetite reduces as they get older, and getting a huge plate of food can be a bit demoralizing when you are just not hungry. This can lead people to just pick at it and not try to finish it. Instead of 3 large meals a day, you could try 5-6 smaller ones, as long as they are healthy.
- Quality not Quantity: Making sure meals are as healthy as possible by possibly adding protein powder to drink, shredded veggies to scrambled eggs etc. and using healthy natural ingredients can all help.
- Supplements: Add some low sugar protein supplements with multi vitamins and mineral supplements. It helps them get the stamina for the day. You may also think of adding some enzyme supplements for better digestion. Consult your dietitian before starting them.
- Reduce levels of salt: Most of the sodium we need is already present in everybody foods like bread, cereals, green leafy vegetables etc. Elderly people might end of adding extra salt due to lack of taste. Make sure you avoid giving ready to eat meals to them. Excess salt leads to high blood pressure, which increases the risk to heart disease and stroke.