Jul 7, 2017 by Kristina Butler
We all know about the myriad benefits of a healthy diet, but how does one actually go about maintaining one, especially if planning, shopping, and meal preparation have become challenging due to illness, injury, or any number of age-related conditions? Let's take a look at several ways caregivers can help seniors establish and maintain a healthy diet.
Initially, seniors should understand that they do not have to go through life alone. If creating, preparing, or maintaining a healthy diet has become hard, Comfort Keepers caregivers are there to provide the necessary support and assistance. True independence does not mean that you have to do everything by yourself. Besides, food is something that is meant to be social.
A healthy diet starts with proper food choices. A standard diet should consist of approximately 40 percent complex carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent healthy fats. The specific numbers will vary slightly based on specific dietary requirements, activity levels, and health conditions, but these are good guidelines.
Percentages are only useful if there is a base number to take a percentage from. For most senior men, the average daily caloric intake should be approximately 2,000 calories. Senior women should aim for around 1,800. This means that on a standard day, a senior male should consume 800 calories of carbohydrates, 600 calories from protein, and 600 calories of healthy fat.
When choosing foods, it is important to remember that the calories can be helpful, neutral, or harmful. Helpful calories fuel the body and give it long-lasting energy and nutrients. These are foods like whole grains, lean meats, foods packed with fiber, nuts and oils with Omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary choices with a low-glycemic index. Neutral foods are foods that contain fewer nutrients but also do not contain many calories, such as iceberg lettuce or celery. Harmful foods are those which contain chemicals or other substances, such as high fructose corn syrup or trans fats, that actually harm the body. These include fried foods; most cakes, cookies, and biscuits; and even a number of sports drinks. Harmful foods also include those which spike the body's sugar levels or throw off the fluid balance. These include choices that are high in any form of sugar or sodium.
If you are wondering what is left to eat, you may be surprised. While a healthy diet will find its base in low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, it also includes an amazing assortment of fish and lean meats, soups and stews, whole grain breads and porridges, and a wide variety of surprising snack alternatives including pudding and jello, baked veggie chips, and Mediterranean staples such as hummus.
In short, maintaining a healthy diet does take some work and will power. It does not mean you can never eat another piece of cake or have fun at a BBQ. Instead, it means that these choices should be included in a dietary plan that balances those food choices with the rest of the day's and week's consumption. Best of all, when in doubt, Comfort Keepers caregivers can help with the planning, preparation, and even the clean-up of all of it.