As our loved ones advance in years, often times they become tired and weak. Over time, making healthy meals and shopping for items that make a good diet becomes taxing physically and a stressful task. It is easier for them to grab a box of ginger snaps to snack on rather than making a good meal. Introducing healthy food back into their diet and making it more accessible will greatly improve their health. Make sure your loved one has a well-balanced diet by implementing veggies, proteins and many other healthy foods. This is a start to a much healthier lifestyle and this will help build immunities in the body to fight against many things that could be harmful and shorten the lifespan.
Healthy food consumption is extremely important for many reasons such as giving your loved one a longer and healthier life. Eating healthy and taking appropriate vitamin supplements can help and prevent various things such as: weight gain, stroke, kidney stones, certain types of cancer, bone loss, heart disease, depression, and dementia/ Alzheimer’s. Eating healthy will help with flexibility and maintaining normal blood levels resulting in strong bones/muscles. Below are some tips on how to start or improve your loved one’s diet and to get them on a positive road to a healthier, longer life.
Often times it is best to prepare a healthy meal and/or snack and offer it to your loved one without asking first. Many times when you ask first, they may feel that they’re putting you out or they just don’t want to deal with it at the time. They may ask for sweets instead of something healthy. Thus, when we prepare and bring them their healthy meal or snack, they more than likely they will eat it for the simple fact that they see you took the time to prepare and bring it to them. Throughout the day bring them snacks such as a cheese stick, crackers with peanut butter, cheese crackers & sandwich meat, fresh fruit, a box of raisins, nuts, dried fruit, fresh veggies (with dip if needed), yogurt (add fruit if needed), and a glass of milk. Sometimes if we ask, they will turn it down and when you are not around, they get hungry and end up eating donuts, cookies, etc. This is why it’s good to serve it to them.
If we are not in the home 24/7, Meal preparation is very helpful. Make foods that are easy to grab and healthy for them to eat. Prepare a full meal and put it on a plate, cover with foil for them so all their food groups are prepared and now all we need to do is remind them of their meal and show them where it is. This makes healthier eating easier for the patient unless of course we are caring for our patient 24/7. In that case, we will do meal prep as well as serving and reminding them to eat healthy.
Get your patient involved by finding out what their favorite foods are and by sitting with them and eating as well. This is very encouraging for them to see you eating healthy too. It lets them know they’re not alone. This way they have you to visit with and offer companionship while they are eating and before you know it, they will have eaten most or all of their meal. Have them help you prepare the meals/snacks as well. This will encourage them just to know they helped. Another form of encouragement is to think of something they like to do or a place they like to go and maybe use that as a way to encourage them. By saying “let’s eat and then go to _______…” This way it gives them something to look forward to. Talk to your patient/loved one about the importance of eating their meals instead of getting full off sweets. When they do eat their meal give them their favorite cookie, pudding, jello, sweets of preference, etc. We don’t want our loved one to feel deprived or that they have no say. It is very important that we assist our loved one in purchasing their groceries. This way we can monitor, in a careful way, the foods they are buying and we can encourage them as well. This will be a way of keeping healthier foods in their home and the food choices become more healthy as well. Encouraging your loved one to drink lots of water is extremely important. Adding vitamins to their daily routine is very important as well. Vitamin D is one of the important supplements that lots of people are lacking. Also it is good to add cranberry vitamin/ supplements as well; especially for women since they easily get urinary tract infections. If your love one is diabetic, you would want to find out what foods and snacks are recommended by the Doctor. Let your loved one know how much you care about them and how much better they will feel by eating healthy and also that they know the better food they eat, the healthier they will be and the longer they will be able to stay in their home. Your loved one may be at the point where they don’t know what’s best for them, so this is when we think for them and implement some of the tips listed above.
Below are some healthy meal/snack ideas:
An egg white omelet or scrambled eggs, add avocado, onion, tomato, spinach and various types of veggies, various types of lean meats and cheeses along with a side of fruit, wheat bread with real butter along with a side of fruit, wheat bread with real butter and/or jam. Oatmeal with low fat or skim milk or protein powder, real butter, honey (instead of sugar) or add fruit, blue berries, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, apples , etc. Add almonds and add a side of wheat or whole grain toast. Boil an egg or two and add a side of fruit, a few nuts, wheat/whole grain bread. Whole wheat waffles and pancakes. Whole wheat French toast is also nice with a side of fruit, nuts. Add a juice, low fat milk, and coffee as well. With the coffee, add honey instead of sugar and also a low fat or non-fat creamer.
Cottage cheese plain or with fruit. You can even use it for dip with veggies – carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.
Raw veggies dipped in dressing. English muffin with jam(real fruit) or peanut butter. Fruits – berries, melons, peaches, grapes, etc.
Whole wheat toast with cheese. Low fat yogurt with your choice of fruit, or add granola/ cereal. Whole grain crackers and cheese.
A whole wheat muffin with a glass of low fat milk.
Apples and peanut butter.
Low-fat popcorn with spray butter (pam).
Low-fat fig bars.
Whole wheat sandwich with lean meat, veggies, cheese and a low fat spread such as Greek yogurt, avocado, fat-free mayonnaise or an olive oil based spread and a side of cottage cheese.
Tuna salad – mix veggies such as onion, tomato, cilantro, olives, mini shrimps, artichoke hearts , etc. Use Greek yogurt or a non–fat mayo as your mixture along with your spices and add this on a bed of lettuce and extra veggies on the side with fruit as well.
Soup with a whole wheat grilled cheese and a side salad with low fat dressing.
Chicken breast with steamed veggies, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and a side of whole grained rice.
Salmon and a baked potato with a fat-free sour cream and onion chives, shredded cheese, steamed or canned veggies and a slice of whole wheat bread.
Meat Loaf (lean hamburger meat) with a sweet potato and a side salad with a whole grain muffin.
Low-fat ice cream or fat-free frozen yogurt with fruit on top, berries, kiwi, mango, peaches, etc. Low-fat or fat-free pudding with fat-free whipped cream and dark chocolate chips on top.
Fresh fruit with low-fat yogurt on top or fat-free whipped cream.
Mango with fat-free frozen yogurt.
Vegetables, Fruits, and their benefits
Apricots – Controls blood pressure, slows aging process, combats cancer, shields against Alzheimer’s and saves eyesight.
Bananas – quiets a cough, protects your heart, blocks diarrhea, strengthens bones and controls blood pressure.
Cabbage – Promotes weight loss, helps with hemorrhoids, prevents constipation, protects your heart and combats cancer.
Avocados – Soothes skin, helps stops strokes, lowers cholesterol, battles diabetes and controls blood pressure.
Apples – Cushions joints, protects your heart, prevents constipation, improves lung capacity and blocks diarrhea .
Blueberries – Boost memory, stabilizes blood sugar, protects your heart, combats cancer and prevents constipation.
Artichoke – Guards against liver disease, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps stop strokes, and protects your heart.
Beets – Strengthens bones, Controls blood pressure, combats cancer, aids in weight loss and protects your heart.
Beans – Prevents constipation, combats cancer, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps with hemorrhoids.
Broccoli – Saves eyesight, protects your heart, strengthens bones, combats cancer and controls blood pressure.
Cantaloupe – Supports immune system, controls blood pressure, saves eyesight, combats cancer and lowers cholesterol.
Note: Consult your physician before starting, to be sure of any food restrictions you may have.
We have seen patients thrive tremendously with the introduction of a healthy way of eating. I have seen the use of the tips above work in a most positive way.
I had a client who had poor health, was caring for herself, and had a hard time eating foods that were good for her. She didn’t feel well enough to take the time to eat healthy. With the help of our care and the implementation of these tips of a healthier diet, she regained her energy and strength. Her skin color improved, her spirits were up, and before we knew it, she was able to be more self-sufficient than her family could have imagined.
One of many benefits of having a healthy diet is that this gives you the energy to want exercise. Let’s get started in guiding our loved ones in a healthier way of living.
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