Meal Ideas for the Elderly

Written by kimberly turtenwald
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Meal Ideas for the Elderly
Careful meal planning allows the elderly to meet their nutritional needs. (elderly lady image by pixelcarpenter from Fotolia.com)

The elderly often do not eat as well as they should. Nutrition needs change over time, and many of the elderly are stuck in an eating rut. It is important to their overall health, however, that certain dietary changes take place, such as consuming more calcium and less fats. Planning meals to include more milk, certain vegetables and low-fat proteins will help the elderly live a healthy life.

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Protein

One of the most important nutrients for the elderly is protein. Simply put, a senior needs to consume about a 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight. An elderly woman weighing 54.4 Kilogram should consume 60 grams of protein per day. A tuna fish sandwich for lunch provides about 40 grams in one meal. Grilled salmon or chicken are excellent sources of protein for dinner. A steak can also provide protein, although red meats should be eaten in moderation. Peas, nuts and eggs can also offer protein.

Dairy

Dairy is necessary in women as their calcium levels tend to drop after menopause. Men should consume 1 to 1.5 cups of dairy products, while women should get at least 2 cups. Drink milk with every meal and add cheese to your chicken, a salad or anything else that it tastes good with. Eating broccoli with your dinner is also an excellent source of calcium. A cup of yoghurt as a snack between meals helps increase your dairy intake for the day.

Vegetables

Choose a wide variety of vegetable colours to get the most out of each one. Dark green, leafy vegetables not only provide vitamins A, C, D and K, but also nutrients, such as folate and iron. They can even be an additional source of calcium. Yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots and squash, offer other important nutrients, such as vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium and lycopene, which contains antioxidants. Pair up different vegetables with each meal. For instance, if you had carrots last night, choose spinach or broccoli tonight. You can even serve more than one colour at a single meal to increase your intake.

Grains

Carbohydrates can be dangerous if you consume too many of the so-called bad carbs, such as refined sugar, white flour and white rice. The elderly should switch over to whole grains whenever possible to avoid the bad carbs. Whole grains offer more nutrients and fibre than processed flour because whole grain retains the nutrients lost in processing. Whole wheat pasta is an excellent substitution for the typical "white" noodles when making spaghetti or other pasta dishes for your meal. Use a whole grain bread to make sandwiches for lunch and toast for breakfast. Breakfast cereals should also be made with whole grains.

Balance

Eating properly as we age involves making meals that contain a combination of everything we need. Make grilled salmon for your protein and serve with broccoli for vitamins and calcium, whole grain rice and a glass of milk. Grilled chicken can also be substituted as an excellent source of protein. An egg salad or tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk and some carrots makes an excellent lunch for the elderly. Eating the right foods as you age helps your body to absorb everything that it needs as your metabolism and digestive systems both slow down. A healthier diet can also help your body fight illness due to ageing.

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