There are many similarities between toddlers and older people. Be it their inherent adorableness, their genuine wonder when introduced to new things or their need of naps! But most of all, it is the fussiness when it comes to meals.
However, the immunity of older people, unlike toddlers, is on a slow decline. This is especially true in winters, where due to the decrease in our metabolism, there is a further decline in our immunity. A common cold or fever in an older person is more dangerous than in healthy younger adults, as the risk of complication is higher.
A good way to combat this decline is to have a nutritious diet, full of seasonal vegetables and super foods. Not only do they provide numerous health benefits, they help in avoiding greasy, unhealthy meals. Eating regular, vitamin rich meals not only help fight off infection but help keeping the energy up throughout the day.
Soups: Homemade soup is the best meal for elderly people. Made from fresh vegetables and meats, these soups provide a hearty meal without being heavy for the digestive system. There are hundreds of recipes, from clear soups to thick chowders, to help break the monotony of soup every day. One should avoid prepackaged soup as much as possible as the sodium content is too high for most seniors. Using paneer, chicken pieces, and egg in soup also adds to the proteins.
Smoothies: Fruits are essential to any healthy meal plan. However, most elderly people have trouble eating fruit either due to their small appetites or poor dental hygiene. Fruits such as apples & guavas are too hard for seniors with dentures to chew. Thus, an easy and yummy way to make sure they are getting adequate fruit intake is blending them with milk. Starting the day with a smoothie topped with seeds & powdered Nuts (e.g.Flax Seeds / Til Seeds / Powdered almonds / walnuts / overnight soaked raisins) will energize them for the rest of the day.
Fiber: Everyone is less active in winters, which may cause digestive issues in elderly people. Fiber based diets help in achieving and maintaining healthy bowel movements. Grains such as brown rice & bran based cereals are ideal for constipation problems. Swap out flour for bajra, jowar & wheat at mealtimes for a more fiber rich lunch/dinner.
Low-Sodium meals: Reducing salt intake is advisable for every age, but is especially true for the elderly. Low-sodium meals help in controlling blood pressure and reduce water retention. Avoid too much of pickles/ papads / processed cannned foods.
Green Tea/Chamomile/Caffeine free tea: The want for tea drastically increases during winters. Beyond 2 cups of regular chai, one should always opt for other types of teas.
Vegetables: Winters is a peak vegetable season, with a myriad of fresh produce available. Apart from making soup, steamed or sautéed vegetables is a filling yet low calorie meal. Baked vegetables are another fun, nutritious meal if you switch the cream for milk and limit the amount of cheese!
Figs & Dates: Instead of traditional sweets after meals, figs and dates can be eaten instead. These super food fruits are full of vitamin and natural sugars, satisfying your sweet tooth.
Vitamin D fortified foods: Vitamin D levels are dangerously low in winter time, due to lack of sunlight. Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, egg yolks should be consumed regularly to avoid developing osteoporosis. For vegetarians, regular sun bathing is the best way to get Vitamin D. Remember not to use sunscreen while taking sun bath as it hinders in Vitamin D absorption.
Dt. Charu Dua says, The other key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to indulge occasionally, within moderation. So as long as elderly people are reasonably active and maintain a healthy diet, Saturday Sweet Day can be instated. It helps the family if everyone follows a similar diet as a unit, for it’s never too early to start eating right.
9/10 times we let our smart nutrition obsess the stomach rule
1/10 we become our tongue’s food mule !