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Tips for Eating Healthier
Posted: 12/22/2016 10:10 AM by
Nutrition is a central element of elder care, providing a basis on which all of your other efforts build. Without proper nutrition, your parents' bodies are unable to function properly and will be at greater risk of a variety of health consequences. If they are like many seniors in their generation, however, healthy eating is not something that they have concerned themselves with much over the years, and may not even be aware of many of the advancements in the area of nutrition. Encouraging them to eat a healthier diet and expand their dietary horizons is a fantastic way to support better physical health and wellbeing, and an overall improved quality of life.
While eating healthier is something that you can choose to do any day, making major changes for a senior should take a little bit of time. You do not want to suddenly change everything that your parents already know about their diet or start introducing a wide variety of foods at the same time. This can be overwhelming and discouraging, and even have negative digestive consequences. Taking your time helps you to introduce healthier eating habits into your parents' regular elder care routine so that you can all start improving your bodies and your lives with better nutrition.
Use these tips, and share them with your aging parents' caregiver, to make meaningful healthy eating changes in your care approach that will actually last:
Introduce foods gradually.
For older adults who have eaten largely the same foods for most of their lives, suddenly being faced with a huge number of new foods can be overwhelming and result in them resisting these changes even more. Restrict new foods to one or two each week so that your parents can focus on those new flavors and experiences, and then move forward to the next.
Start with familiar comparisons.
Take some of the intimidation factor out of heathier eating by starting with foods that are already familiar to them. Encourage them to try new varieties of apples, or eat spring mix rather than iceberg lettuce, for example. These gentle transitions make changes seem more accessible and approachable so your parents will be more prepared for larger changes.
Keep a journal.
Track your progress on your healthier eating journey with a journal. This is your place to write down what you tried, how you prepared or served it, the response of each of your parents, and plans for the next time you want to try it, if you are going to at all.
Watch for reactions.
After introducing a new food, be careful to watch your parents for any signs of adverse reactions, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, headaches, rashes, nausea, or fatigue. It is not uncommon for food allergies to develop later in life, and even if your seniors are not allergic to the new foods, their digestive systems may have difficulty processing them. Jot these reactions down in your journal so you can prepare for them next time you serve the food, or can bring them up with your parents' doctor if you are concerned.