With spring around the corner, beginning to focus on healthy nutrition and becoming more aware of what you put into your body is essential. As we age, our bodies change and older adults have different nutritional needs than children, teens and middle-aged adults. Age related changes can affect how your body processes food, which influences your dietary needs and affects your appetite. Some changes include but are not limited to:
- Slower metabolism
- Digestive system changes
- Appetite change due to medications
- Emotional health side effects
A healthy diet can help ward off potential health problems and help maintain overall health but with all the temptations out there, it can be hard to make smart and healthy decisions. We sat down with Whisper Woods Dining Services Director, Vanessa Lemke, and she gave us some helpful and simple nutrition tips for seniors.
- Use fresh fruit, vegetables and proteins whenever possible. When using fresh ingredients, it’s easier to control the amount of fat, sodium and extra calories that are added to a meal.
- Use a variety of cooking methods in a meal to reduce the amount of fat needed to make something taste “good,” like roasting and grilling. These methods can impart a lot of flavor without adding extra fat.
- Use homemade marinades and spice rubs for extra flavor with less salt and limited extra calories. Experiment with fresh herbs, natural stocks and citrus for delicious flavor pairings.
- Use healthier fats to replace bad fats (like trans and saturated fats). For example, cook with olive oil in place of butter and canola oil.
- Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water will prevent dehydration and help with age-related health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- Don’t forget to include variety in your meals! Different foods provide different nutrients to the body, so it’s good to mix things up.
Nutrition is a key contributor to the well-being and longevity of the elderly. At Whisper Woods at Smithtown, we are available to provide more nutrition tips and navigate the steps to a healthier lifestyle. As always, be sure to check with your physician if you are making any dietary changes.
About Vanessa Lemke
Vanessa Lemke, dining services director at Whisper Woods at Smithtown, a Benchmark Senior Living Community in Smithtown, New York, has been working with seniors for 13 years and has been a part of the culinary industry for almost 20 years. Vanessa prides herself on providing an exceptional dining experience to all residents and making sure they enjoy chef-prepared, delicious and healthy meals to please their individual palates and dietary requirements. One of her favorite parts about the job is building relationships with the residents, talking with them about the things they used to prepare for their own families and recreating those recipes for them.