Older adults should eat a balanced diet that mixes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (especially fish), and low-fat dairy. With the right food choices, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, healthy oils, and omega-3 fatty acids are all part of the daily diet.
Your dad’s getting older and doesn’t do much cooking. If he does, he looks for foods that are ready-to-cook like freezer meals or canned soup. How do you help him make better choices?
Try Something New
You get older and your tastes change. The taste buds don’t regenerate as quickly. Your sense of smell isn’t as good as it used to be. Foods you used to love may not be as appealing. That may be what your dad is experiencing. He tastes sweet and salty foods, so that’s what he leans towards.
Try new foods. Your dad may find that something he’s never tried before is suddenly appealing. He’s never had star fruit, but the sweet-tart taste becomes a favorite. He never has had monkfish, but he finds he loves the firmer texture and mild taste.
Use Herbs and Citrus Juice Instead of Salt
Too much salt isn’t ideal as it affects the blood vessels and arteries. If your dad is heavily salting things to make them taste appealing, grow fresh herbs instead. Instead of loading his mashed potatoes with salt, add fresh garlic, chives, and fat-free sour cream.
Your dad wants to put salt on his grilled fish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on it instead. Add thinly sliced basil leaves or chop some parsley for a boost of vitamin C.
Create New Twists on Old Favorites
Creatively tweak your dad’s favorite recipes to be healthier takes on his favorite meals. If he always loved lasagna, he can still have it. You just need to adjust some of the less healthy ingredients. Instead of Italian sausage made from pork, make your own with ground chicken, olive oil, basil, fennel seeds, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
You could use sliced eggplant or zucchini in place of some of the lasagna noodles. Add lots of vegetables to the tomato sauce. Red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and carrots are good choices.
Use the Quarter Plate Method
Take a dinner plate and divide it into quarters. When you’re getting your dad’s meal, make sure two quarters of that plate are filled with vegetables and fruits. The remaining two quarters should be the lean protein choice and a whole grain.
Elderly care aides ensure your parents eat well if you hire them for meal services. Caregivers work with your parents to create weekly meal plans. They’ll take your parents shopping for the ingredients and other household necessities.
Back at home, elderly care aides put groceries away, prep ingredients, and cook meals and snacks. With regular homemade meals, your parents aren’t eating a lot of high-fat, high-salt, and high-sugar frozen, canned, or takeout foods. Call an agency to arrange help with meals and snacks.