If you’re looking to make your next dinner party truly special, consider hiring a private chef! Private chefs offer a unique dining experience, tailored to your specific tastes and dietary needs. With the right chef, you can enjoy a delicious meal that is prepared with the utmost care and attention. With so many options available, it can be hard to decide which private chef is right for you. Here’s a guide to help you find the perfect chef for your next dinner party. From researching potential chefs to deciding on a menu, you’ll be well on your way to creating a memorable experience for your guests.
Living with diabetes can be challenging, especially when it comes to planning healthy meals. Preparing nutritious meals that are also diabetes-friendly can be time-consuming and difficult. Luckily, there are now meal services that make it easier to eat healthily while managing diabetes. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the benefits of diabetic meals delivered right to your door, what you should look for in a meal delivery service, how to choose the right diabetic meal plan, and more.
Most people watch their calories, sugar and salt intake and make sure they are eating enough fruits and vegetables, but do not always ensure they are getting adequate protein in their diet. Protein keeps us fuller longer, speeds up the metabolism and helps the body build and maintain muscle. Proteins help your body repair, and are also essential as an energy source- which is why it’s critical that we get enough protein from high-quality food sources.
Recent studies have shown that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 are lacking in getting enough protein- which can say a lot about their overall health and diet. The good news is- there are lots of simple ways to increase your protein intake without changing your diet drastically!
Upgrade Your Breakfast Routine
We have all heard the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and for good reason- when we sleep, we essentially are fasting (not eating) for 7+ hours. When we wake up, our body needs a replenishment of glucose and other nutrients to produce energy. However, nearly two-thirds of American’s skip breakfast, which can cause symptoms like headaches, blood sugar dips, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
The unfortunate reality is that even those who eat breakfast don’t always eat a healthy meal. Instead of reaching for “convenience” items like donuts, muffins and breakfast cereals, try higher-protein foods like eggs, full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal with nuts.
Sneak In Some Protein Powder
Supplementing a flavored or unflavored protein powder is an easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake with little effort. There are many high-quality protein powders on the market with different flavors and nutrients. This can be particularly helpful to those with a soft-foods diet or even those with a decreased appetite. Protein powder can be added to smoothies, salad dressings, beverages and even things like baked goods and mashed potatoes.
Prioritize Animal and Plant-Based Protein
Animal products like lean meat, dairy products and eggs have the highest concentration of bioavailable protein. Including high-quality animal products into your diet is one of the easiest ways to meet your protein goals, however, there are plenty of plant-based protein options that can work well for those who choose to be vegan or vegetarian. Food items like beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds are higher in protein than other plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, but you’ll likely need to be eating a higher concentration of these foods to meet your protein goals on a plant-based diet. Always consult a nutritionist or a healthcare professional if you have questions or want individualized recommendations!
When it comes to eating a well-rounded, healthy diet, many people struggle to eat 3 balanced meals a day. This can be for a variety of reasons- you’re too busy, you’re on the go, you’re recovering from an injury or illness, you lack the motivation to cook, etc. This is why having meals prepared in advance is beneficial- you can have meals ready for you to eat right at your fingertips! This can be anything from overnight-oatmeal for breakfast to a casserole for dinner, all of which are healthier than swinging through the drive-through at meal time.
Need some help getting more protein in your diet, but don’t have the ability or desire to cook for yourself? If you struggle to prepare meals or could use some help in the kitchen, Chefs for Seniors puts a personal chef in the home that can prepare customized meals tailored to your dietary needs and preferences. Click here to find a chef near you!
Today, food intolerance and food allergy are two terms that are often used interchangeably. A food sensitivity takes place in the digestive system, while a true food allergy is an immune response. While some symptoms of food intolerance and an allergy are similar, it is important to understand the differences between the two.
What is a food allergy, anyway?
Allergies are classified as an overreaction of the body’s immune system to certain proteins. Most commonly, foods that contain gluten, nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, certain fruits or vegetables or even food dyes. If someone is truly allergic, even a small amount of the allergy-inducing food can cause symptoms like itchy throat, lips, tongue or skin rash, but can be even more severe like closed airways (anaphylaxis), which can be life-threatening.
What about a food intolerance?
If you’ve ever eaten a food that consistently causes a reaction like an upset stomach, headache or noticeable fatigue, you may have a food intolerance. Unlike a food allergy, an intolerance is not an immune response, but rather a response from the digestive system- and occurs when your body is not able to properly break down certain compounds in food. This can occur for several reasons, such as enzyme deficiencies or sensitivities to food additives. While a food intolerance can cause you to feel ill or uncomfortable, it is not life-threatening.
What should I do if I suspect I have an allergy or sensitivity?
If you suspect you have a food allergy, it is best to contact your doctor as soon as you start noticing symptoms (swollen or tingling sensation in the tongue or lips after eating, skin rash, etc.). An allergist will be able to give the most accurate diagnoses and provide treatment as well as avoidance strategies for your food allergy.
If you think you are simply sensitive to a certain food, there are a couple different strategies to take. The first option would be to simply avoid the food you believe you are sensitive to. However, some “elimination diets” can lack nutritionally and can feel restricting. In some cases, food sensitivities can be reversed- or at least find ways to minimize their symptoms. As mentioned previously, food intolerances can often be a result of lacking adequate amounts of digestive enzymes. If the gut is not producing enough enzymes, we will have a difficult time breaking down certain foods and can cause symptoms like bloat, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
To encourage digestive enzyme production, you can begin by regularly consuming foods that are naturally rich in enzymes, such as papayas, pineapple, honey, sauerkraut, kefir and ginger. You can also supplement with a spore-based probiotic, which encourages good gut-bacteria in your digestive system to help break down food properly. In time, by taking measures to improve gut health, you may begin slowly introducing these foods back into your diet in small amounts.
Getting older comes with life changes, such as retirement, relocating, or learning to manage changing family dynamics. The state of our mental health affects how we feel, how we think, and how we cope with change and stressful times in our lives. Memory loss, cognitive decline and the loneliness epidemic among seniors make them particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. Most commonly amongst seniors, we see conditions like anxiety, cognitive impairment and depression.
Not only do these conditions effect seniors mentally, but they can manifest themselves in physical ways as well. We know that stress of any kind can have negative effects on your physical health- like suppressing the immune system, decreasing our appetite, and even increasing risk for heart attack or stroke.
In this article, we have several tips for supporting our seniors as they age and maintaining mental health and well-being.
Exercise Your Body AND Your Brain
Physical exercise has tremendous health benefits- both to our bodies physically but also mentally. Exercise helps to manage stress and reduce anxiety by producing endorphins that keep us mentally sharp and feeling our best. Physical exercise can take many forms- such as daily walks, swimming, yoga or dance classes.
Just as the body needs physical activity to stay healthy, the brain needs stimulation to stay sharp. Studies have shown that “brain games” can help sharpen thinking skills like decision-making, reaction time and short-term memory. An activity that keeps the mind engaged and promotes problem-solving (such as crossword puzzles, sudoku, board/card games, etc.) are great examples, but other accessible activities may include reading, writing, playing an instrument, or learning a new language.
Ask for Help
As we get older, certain activities can become more difficult than they once were in our younger years. This could be anything from mowing the lawn, preparing meals, or even remembering to take prescribed medication. One of the best things (and often the most difficult) a struggling senior can do is ask for help, whether that is through a friend, family member or even a senior-care specialist. Asking for help not only gives us a feeling of community, but also protects seniors from dangers like falling or other forms of physical harm.
Discover a New Hobby
It’s never too late to try something new! Retirement is the perfect time for seniors to cross some things off their bucket-lists and pursue their lifelong dreams- or even trying something they’ve never done before. Think cooking classes, gardening, joining a music group or taking an art class!
Learning a new skill keeps our brains sharp and our minds engaged, and the relationships you can form through new hobbies help give seniors a sense of comfort and belonging.
Caring for a Pet
A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan linked owning a pet for 5 or more years delayed aging in the brain in adults 65 and older. Why? Pets not only can provide companionship to a lonely senior, but they promote physical activity and overall happiness. Studies have also shown that pets may provide health benefits like lowering blood pressure as well as reducing stress and symptoms of depression.
If having a pet is not feasible, volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to connect with animals and help in your community.
Time and distance can make it difficult for people to stay in touch with friends and family, especially as we age. After retirement, we often experience a shift in our daily lives, which is largely impacted by lack of social interaction that we may have been used to in the working world.
Studies have shown that nearly one-fourth of adults over the age of 65 feel lonely and/or socially isolated. Nowadays, technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends, through programs like social media, FaceTime and Skype- just to name a few. If technology seems tricky for the senior, encourage them to set up regular phone calls (or even write letters) to friends and family they want to stay in touch with.
Throughout history, herbs and spices have been used all over the world- not just to make our food taste flavorful, but many of them have been long celebrated for their medicinal properties. Before modern medicine, communities and civilizations used resources derived from nature to promote healing and overall well-being- everything from healing wounds to preventing and treating illness. Here are 7 commonly used herbs and spices, supported by research, with surprising health benefits!
Cinnamon provides a myriad of health benefits as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and anticarcinogenic spice. In recent studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. In addition, cinnamon has also been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is especially important for those with diabetes who are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Try sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal, yogurt, or even in a pot of chili or as part of a meat rub.
Turmeric has become a trendy superfood, known for its ability to reduce inflammation- a common cause of disease and pain. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, those who consumed turmeric regularly experienced reduced pain and swelling in those who suffer from arthritis. Some studies suggest that curcumin, a substance from turmeric, has even been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Turmeric is delicious in any curry dish, but can also be rubbed on meat and vegetables.
Oregano is most widely known for its high levels on antioxidants that prevent free radical damage and strengthen the immune system. Oregano contains a compound, carvacrol, that is effective against the cold and flu virus. Another common use for oregano is the treatment of digestive issues like bloat, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic diarrhea, bacterial-overgrowths such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or Candida. Since it is antimicrobial, it can be extremely effective at shifting chronic digestive issues over time. Dried oregano can easily be added to soups, sauces or even in a rub on meat or vegetables. Some, for added health benefits, will consume dried oregano steeped as a tea.
People around the world have been using ginger for thousands of years as a remedy for gastrointestinal issues. Gingerol, a natural component of ginger root, encourages efficient digestion. In-efficient digestion can be associated with symptoms like bloat, nausea and gas. Fresh, peeled ginger root steeped in hot water is an excellent remedy for stomach upset- but can also be used to flavor soups, sauces and is a delicious in a meat marinade.
The cocoa bean is full of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have been shown to improve heart health. Flavonoids also contribute to lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. A key note: the healthiest form of cocoa comes from raw cocoa products that are made from dried and unroasted cocoa beans. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is a good source of these beneficial antioxidants- of course, consumed in moderation.
Peppermint has been shown to be an uplifting herb that boosts the mood, improves focus and increases energy. Peppermint is also used as relief for cold and flu symptoms like clogged sinuses, respiratory discomfort and can even be soothing for a headache or migraine. Like ginger, it has also been used to relieve gastrointestinal issues like nausea. Peppermint is widely enjoyed as an herbal tea, preferably before or after a meal to aid in healthy digestion.
Rosemary is rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage. It is also considered a cognitive stimulant. Even just a sniff of fresh rosemary can be beneficial- a study showed that those who got a whiff of rosemary performed better on memory tests compared to those who did not. Another surprising benefit of rosemary is that it has been shown to promote hair growth, prevent baldness and treat dandruff and dry scalp! Rosemary is a delicious herb in a pot roast, casserole or seasoned over roasted potatoes.
Difficulty swallowing- commonly known as dysphagia- is a condition that affects approximately 15 percent of elderly adults. Dysphagia is the inability to easily pass food or liquids from the mouth, into the throat, and into the esophagus to the stomach during the process of swallowing. If your elderly loved one is showing signs of having difficulty swallowing, we will be discussing what it means and options for managing symptoms.
What is Dysphagia?
While the act of swallowing seems simple and almost mindless, the process actually involves almost 50 different muscles and nerves to move food from your mouth, down the throat and into the stomach to be digested. Most often, medical complications like stroke, cognitive disorders, or cancer of the throat, mouth or esophagus can be a contributing factor in developing dysphagia.
Depending on the severity, dysphagia can cause complications like choking, gagging and can even be painful when attempting to swallow. One of the biggest risks, however, is malnutrition and dehydration. Those who suffer from dysphagia may be less inclined to eat or drink due to the difficulty or discomfort, making them less likely to maintain a healthy weight.
What Signs Should I Look For?
There are several symptoms that can indicate that your loved one is having difficulty swallowing, such as:
– Choking or gagging on food or drinks
– Decline in appetite/rapid weight loss
– Having a “wet” sounding voice, especially after eating or drinking
– Shortness of breath while eating
– Sensation of food or liquid being stuck in the throat or chest
If you notice any of these signs, it may be beneficial to consult a medical professional who can do a physical examination of the esophagus and can perform an endoscopic swallowing test for an official diagnosis.
Managing Swallowing Difficulties
If your loved one is diagnosed with dysphagia, there are several tips you can follow to manage their condition:
Consult a Speech or Language Therapist
In some cases, your loved one may be referred to a speech or language therapist that can help them learn new swallowing techniques. Posture is an important factor when it comes to swallowing food properly, so they will stress the importance of sitting up straight while eating and drinking, even if they are bed-ridden or in a wheelchair. In some cases, surgery may be required- especially for those who experience narrowing, blockages, vocal-chord paralysis or treating esophageal cancer.
Have Smaller, Softer Meals
If your loved one is having difficulty swallowing, they should eat foods that are soft and easy to consume. This can include foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, soup and smoothies. It is important to prioritize protein- so opt for options like full-fat yogurt and protein powders that can be added to beverages and smoothies. A doctor will likely also suggest reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption because it can have a drying-effect to the mouth and throat. In more serious cases, some patients may require a feeding tube through the nose or stomach.
Many meals can also be puréed into a pâté-like consistency, which can be helpful in allowing seniors to continue eating their regularly enjoyed meals. Click here to read our article on the soft-foods diet.
When caring for an aging loved one, there may come a time when they need assistance to continue living safely and independently, whether that be at home or in an assisted living care facility. If you or a loved one have a current Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) policy and needs an increased level of care, it is important to educate yourself on how to file a claim and understand the benefits that are offered. In this article, we will discuss how this program works and how this can benefit aging adults.
What is Long Term Care Insurance?
A long-term care insurance policy helps with the cost of assistance if you have a chronic health condition or disability. This is especially important for aging adults because regular health insurance does not cover long-term care. Most policies today offer coverage for home care, assisted living, respite care and nursing home care.
Under most long-term care policies, you will qualify for benefits once you need assistance with at least two out of six ADL’s (activities of daily living)- bathing, caring for incontinence, dressing, eating, toileting (getting on or off the toilet) or transferring (getting out of a chair or bed). Benefits can also be received if the individual suffers from cognitive impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
If you are considering utilizing long-term care insurance for yourself or a loved one, you’ll want to assess the individual’s care needs to see whether it might be time to get some extra help if the person is living independently. These signs may include lack of desire (or inability) to clean their living space, decline in hygiene practices, reluctance to leave the house, declining driving skills, difficulty getting around, losing track of medications or losing interest in meals.
Filing a Claim
If you suspect that you or your aging loved one has LTCI coverage, you’ll want to first locate evidence such as a certificate of coverage or any records of premium payments. An insurance company will also review any medical documents from your doctor, or in some cases, send in a nurse to do an evaluation before the insurer can approve a plan for care. Then, you can contact the insurance company to see if this policy is still valid. If so, it is important to clarify specifics of their coverage, such as:
1. How long will my benefits last?
2. Does this policy expire?
3. What services are covered? How are cognitive disorders covered such as dementia or Alzheimer’s?
4. Does the policy have a maximum length of coverage for each service provided?
5. Do I pay out of pocket for services during the elimination period? (Most policies require that you pay for long-term care out of pocket for a certain period of time, such as 30-90 days before you begin receiving reimbursement)
It is important to note that every insurance company is different, and their offerings are unique, so be sure to have a solid understanding of your individualized plan.
Informing Care Provider of Your Long-term Care Policy
Once you have made the decision on which provider(s) are needed for your long-term care needs, you’ll want to inform them of your LTCI policy. In some cases, the care provider may initiate a claim, otherwise, you or another family member may be responsible for initiating the claim. You want to be sure that you and your care provider are aware of the elimination period process and the possibility of payment delays under your policy. This will also help you or your loved one keep track of cash flow and payments for care.
Today, consumers are becoming more health conscious which means we are paying closer attention to what is in our food. Nutrition and ingredient information on food labels help us know exactly what is in the food product and how much, however, sometimes these labels can be deceiving or difficult to understand. As a consumer, it is important to understand how to read these labels to make the healthiest and informed decision about which food products to purchase. In this article, we will discuss the types of information that may be printed on food labels and provide tips on how to interpret that information.
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) requires that a nutrition label be placed on packaged food and beverages. This label includes serving size, calorie count, total cholesterol, fat, sodium, total sugars, etc. At the very top of the label, there is a serving size (shown in the graphic below). Serving size reflects the amount that consumers typically eat or drink, so it is important to remember that it is not a recommendation for how much you should eat or drink.
It is important to note that the nutrient percentages shown on the label refer to the serving size. For example, if the label suggests that one serving of a product is 1 cup and that contains 10g of sugar, you can assume that by consuming 2 cups, you would be doubling that amount of sugar.
Percent Daily Value (%DV)
Percent Daily Value (%DV) reflects how much a nutrient in a serving of the food product contributes to a 2,000-calorie diet, which is considered standard for most adults. Even though this number is considered an average amount, some individuals may require more calories depending on their needs and lifestyle. As a general rule-of-thumb, 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low, while 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high, so keep this in mind when looking at a food label.
More often than not, we find that most people exceed the recommended limits for saturated fats, sodium and added sugar, which are commonly found in snack foods, frozen meals, fast food and beverages like soda and juice. Many people do not get the recommended amount of essential nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and other vitamins- so be sure to do your research to find which foods at the super market are most nutrient-dense (think fresh produce and high-quality protein sources).
There are two types of product dates commonly printed on packaged food and beverages:
· “Sell by” is labeled at retailers, and informs them of the day by which the food or beverage product should be sold or removed from the shelves. However, this does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after that date. Usually about one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the sell by date for the consumer.
· “Use by” indicates how long food and beverage items will be at peak quality. This means if you use or consume the products after the provided date, the product may have changed in appearance, texture, flavor and quality. Expired foods, especially items like produce, meat or dairy products should not be consumed past the listed use by date.
When buying items from the grocery store, it’s important to look at the expiration dates listed on the products you purchase so you make sure you are buying a fresh product. Also avoid any items that are severely dented, leaking at the seams, or have any holes or visible damage.
Reading the Ingredient List
The ingredients in packaged food items are most often listed separately from the Nutrition Facts info, and includes each ingredient in the product in order of quantity. For example, the ingredient with the highest concentration will be listed first. Many health experts suggest that the first three ingredients in a food product are the most crucial to pay attention to- if those include refined grains, a type of sugar or hydrogenated oils, those are best avoided or should at least be consumed in small amounts. Experts also suggest sticking to foods with ingredients that you can recognize and have a fairly short list of ingredients.
It is also important to be mindful of terminology that food companies use to market their products, that may be deceiving to what the product actually contains. Food and beverage items may include terms like “light”, “reduced sugar”, “low calorie”, “fat free”, etc. None of this is necessarily bad, but it can often mean that by omitting one ingredient, they are adding in other additive ingredients or chemicals to compensate that are even worse for your health. For example, diet soda is marketed to the consumer as being healthier than the regular real sugar alternative, but it does contain artificial ingredients and sweeteners that are made from unnatural chemicals. In summary, just because something claims to be healthier on the package, does not always mean that it is. Do not let the claims on the package fool you!
In conclusion, the best way to avoid being misled by product labels is to try to avoid processed foods whenever possible. If you do buy packaged foods, use your knowledge of reading the Nutrition Facts and Ingredient label to sort out the junk from high-quality products.
There is no denying that a healthy diet is vital to our overall health. Particularly after a hospital stay, proper nutrition is incredibly important during the healing process and can often be the difference maker in preventing our loved ones from returning to the hospital in the future. A nutrient-lacking diet is the number one cause of poor health in the United States, and for seniors, health problems caused by malnourishment or lack of nutrients can be even more severe. Malnutrition contributes to higher infection rates, muscle weakness, brain fog and impaired wound healing.
When our loved ones are in need, whether that be recovering from an injury or illness, it is important to understand that the care we provide in terms of nutrition and health will provide a quicker recovery and improve their health overall.
Why is there an increased need for nutrient-dense foods after a hospital stay?
It is a well-known fact that our bodies are as healthy as the food we give it. If we deprive ourselves of fresh fruits, vegetables and high-quality protein sources and instead eat foods that are manufactured and full of preservatives (think frozen meals and fast food), our bodies are more susceptible to illness, injury and delayed recovery. A healthy diet creates a robust immune system, strong muscles and keeps our brain functioning at an optimal level. Yet, research shows that nearly half of patients who enter the hospital are at risk for malnutrition or are malnourished, which is predominantly older adults.
When we are ill or injured, our bodies begin working overtime to heal. This process requires lots of energy, and without enough calories and nutrients, this can be a very slow process. Many patients who discharge from the hospital are given medication, which can be dangerous to take on an empty stomach. It is essential that you or your loved one is eating several nutritious meals throughout the day and staying properly hydrated.
Why is this so common?
One of the most serious obstacles to proper nutrition after being discharged from a hospital is food insecurity. This is defined as a “measure of the availability of food and individuals’ ability to access it”. Reasons for food insecurity can range from financial struggles, lack of ability to prepare meals, ability to eat meals without assistance, or not being able to travel outside of the home to grocery shop or pick up meals.
When recovering from illness or injury, there is commonly a decreased desire or even an inability to cook for yourself, clean or perform daily tasks that you were able to do prior to hospital admission. In this case, it can be helpful to seek resources like a personal caregiver, a cleaning service or a meal service.
What can I do to make sure my loved ones are eating right after a hospital discharge?
Two major factors that contribute to food insecurity is social isolation and lack of support. A doctor will discuss post-discharge recovery, which often includes diet recommendations. This can be overwhelming for loved ones and their caretakers, which is why communicating with a dietician can be helpful. A Registered Dietician or Nutritionist can assist in explaining which foods must be avoided and which foods are encouraged to help you recover.
If food preparation or grocery shopping is a challenge (or even impossible), a personal-chef service like Chefs for Seniors can take the burden off of meal preparation. Unlike many meal delivery services, Chefs for Seniors is familiar and can work with a wide variety of diets (low sodium, vegetarian, low potassium, etc.) and customize meals for the individual client to fit their tastes and preferences.
Effective discharge planning is not only beneficial for the individual, but because it reduces readmission rates (and associated costs), it’s a positive for the caregiver, too. Click here to find a Chefs for Seniors location nearest you!