The Cottages Blog

Common Myths About Senior Eating and Nutrition

Posted by Michelle Kelley on Sep 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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As we age, our bodies change. Seniors eat differently and require a different level of nutrition than they did as younger adults. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths about senior eating and nutrition.

Myth: Seniors Lose Their Appetites

Truth: Seniors are not as active as younger adults are. Their metabolisms adjust to support this change in activity. Often times, this means that seniors need and eat less food than younger, more active adults. However, this doesn’t mean that it is normal for a senior to lose their appetite or for them to stop enjoying the foods that they once loved. A loss of appetite may actually be a sign of something more serious. Learn what sudden appetite changes could mean for your senior mom.

Myth: Seniors Need Fewer Nutrients Than Younger Adults

Truth: While seniors do often eat less calories than younger adults, they actually need more of certain nutrients. As we age, we lose the ability to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients as well as we used to, like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Seniors should focus on eating foods that are high in these particular nutrients. For calcium, eat dark leafy greens like collard greens, broccoli, and kale. For vitamin D, eat oily fish, egg yolks, and milk and juices that have been fortified with vitamin D. For vitamin B12, eat red meats, yogurt, and eggs. Talk to your doctor and see if taking a vitamin supplement is right for you.

Myth: By Age 65, It's Too Late to Start Being Healthy

Truth: It’s never too late to get healthy and stay healthy. There are many ways that seniors can age well. Make changes that benefit your body and your mind. Start today by adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet. Drink plenty of water. Start exercising regularly. Read more. Studies have shown that, when a person makes lifestyle changes after having a heart attack, they are less at risk of ever suffering another heart attack.

Myth: Thinner People Can Eat Whatever They Want

Truth: While it’s true that being overweight can raise your risk of several illnesses, such as Type-2 diabetes and heart disease, that doesn’t mean that being thin automatically means you are healthy. Poor diet can cause a number of different problems, from malnutrition to increased risk of bone fractures. To stay as healthy as possible, seniors should focus on eating a well-balanced diet, whether they are overweight, underweight, or weigh exactly what their doctor says they should weigh. Don’t eat foods that are too high in fat or salt, and eat your fruits and vegetables.

Myth: It's Ok to Skip a Meal if You're Not Hungry

Truth: Skipping a meal could lead to extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels, over-consumption of high-calorie, poor-nutrient snacks, and suppressed appetite. Even if you don’t feel hungry at mealtime, you should try to eat something. Eat just a few bites of a small, high-calorie, healthy snack, like avocado or a handful of nuts. These types of food are rich in good oils and fats and will nourish your body even in little amounts.

Myth: Giving Seniors Unhealthy Foods They Enjoy Will Encourage Eating

Truth: Often times, when a caregiver attempts to give a picky eater unhealthy foods in the hopes that they will eventually get hungry for healthier foods, this only end with the senior overindulging in fast foods, frozen dinners, or processed snacks. These types of food are high in calories and sodium but very low in any nutritional value, leading to malnutrition. If a senior that you care for absolutely refuses to eat healthy foods, it may be time to talk to their doctor about giving them a vitamin supplement.

 

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Topics: Senior Health Care

Michelle Kelley

Written by: Michelle Kelley

Michelle Haigler Kelley is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She and her husband Shane live in Pike Road with their daughters. She graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery and began her career in the senior care industry as an Activity Director before obtaining her Alabama Assisted Living Administrator License in 2014. “I have truly found my calling in life to work with our seniors. After all, they are considered the greatest generation,” says Michelle. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and going to the lake.