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.
Eating healthy is one of the key requirements to have a disease-free and fulfilling life. In today’s world, everyone is so busy with his or her work; the one thing that many tend to ignore is to have a balanced and nutritious diet. Instead, they resort to junk food, which is easy to make, fast to assimilate and appeal to the taste bud. If there could be certain recipes which along with the characteristics mentioned for junk food, was healthy as well, that would be a win-win situation for all. This holds true for senior citizens as well.
After a certain age, proper food becomes all the more critical because of the deteriorating condition of the body and the inability to digest anything and everything. The taste bud changes, the side effects of medications ruin the will to eat much, and a certain amount of laziness creeps in. Systems of the body tend to become more delicate which requires a little more care than when young. Therefore, the importance of a healthy diet is more for senior citizens. Here are 7 easy and healthy recipes!
Banana Split Oatmeal
Take some oatmeal cereal along with salt in a microwave-safe vessel along with some water and heat it for a minute. Stir it for some time and microwave it again for 1 minute. You can also heat an additional 30 seconds to get the thickness you want. After that is done, add banana slices and yogurt and have this easy to make the recipe as breakfast.
Pan-grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa
If the taste were a major factor, this would be at the top of the list. The salsa is primarily made by combining cilantro, onion, rice vinegar, pineapple and red pepper. Take a grilling pan, sprinkle some oil on it, add the fish fillets and cook for 4 minutes on each side. Add salsa on top for finger-licking taste. Ideal for lunch or dinner and has high nutrition content.
Crustless Spinach Pie
Who doesn’t like a pie? A spinach pie might raise some eyebrows, but the speculations are uncalled for as it is as tasty as a pie can get. To make this recipe, you should heat the oven up to 350 degrees. Take a baking pan and melt butter on it. Take beaten eggs, milk, flour, garlic, add some baking powder to it, and pour the whole mixture onto a baking pan. Add some cheese and spinach to it and bake until you get the golden brown. The crustless spinach pie is ready to be served.
Marinated Three-Bean Salad
As the name suggests, this salad consists of 3 types of beans. This recipe is very easy to make and can be stored for consumption for a more extended period. Take canned lima beans, green beans and kidney beans in a bowl. Take an onion, make rings out of it, and add them to the assortment of beans. Add some green bell pepper and top it with some fat-free Italian dressing. Mix it well and marinate it in a refrigerator for almost half an hour. Drain the water before serving this delicious salad.
Spring Vegetable Soup
Soup is always a good and tasty food item and adding a variety of vegetables to it increases its health value tremendously. To make this soup, heat some oil first at a medium flame and then add the vegetables like tomatoes, peas, cabbage, artichoke and others according tochoices. To this mixture, add water and a little tomato juice. Boil it. After the heat reduces, add basil leaves and simmer until the vegetables become soft and tender. Add appropriate seasonings for taste.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Take yogurt and vanilla and mix it in a bowl. Take four parfait glass and add this mixture to it. Top it with honey, nuts, and clementine. Add the remaining mixture on top of that and garnish with honey, clementine, and nuts again. Serve immediately and splurge on this healthy breakfast menu.
Chocolate Peanut-Butter Shake
This is ideal for the oldies with a sweet tooth as it contains chocolate superfood. Take some milk and peanut butter and mix it in a blender. You can add ice cubes and chocolate ice cream to it and blend again till the desired consistency is achieved. The shake is ready in no time and will tickle the taste buds extensively.
Once you grow old, you do not have to compromise on anything, be it taste or health, once you know how to make these recipes, the best part being that it can be prepared in a moment.
What most people perceive as a “flavorful” meal is usually laden with high amounts of salt. The problem is, eating too much sodium can lead to numerous health issues, most notably hypertension. Typically, healthcare professionals recommend sticking to 1500mg of sodium or less each day. If you’re going out to eat all the time, it can be really difficult to control your salt intake and stay under the 1500mg mark, so it’s best to eat home cooked meals that give you more control over the types of ingredients used.
While restaurants use high amounts salt as a shortcut to flavor, that doesn’t mean that low sodium meals made at home have to be bland – you just have to get creative! Here are 5 natural salt alternatives that will take your low sodium meals from tasteless to tasty. Read more
HERE ARE SOME WARNING SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR – AND STEPS TO TAKE – WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR LOVED ONES NOT EATING PROPERLY.
Eating a well-balanced diet is essential to health and well-being no matter what age you are, but for seniors, it’s especially important. That’s because our bodies don’t absorb nutrients very efficiently as we age, so it’s crucial that the foods we eat are more nutrient-dense.
The problem is, many seniors start eating less or simply resort to what’s convenient when it comes to their diet, which in many cases can lead to malnutrition. According to a study conducted by the Annals of Emergency Medicine, over 60% of seniors that check-into an emergency room in the US are malnourished or at risk for malnutrition!
There are many reasons why the diets of many seniors suffer, including:
- Trouble chewing
- Memory issues
- General apathy towards cooking
For family members caring for aging loved ones, it can be hard to know when you should be concerned and intervene. Here are 5 warning signs to look out for, followed by actions steps once you’ve identified the problem.
1. WEIGHT LOSS
Problematic weight loss is defined as losing more than 5% of body weight in one month. Losing weight too quickly can lead to loss of muscle and body tissue, which can reduce strength and mobility.
2. LOW ENERGY
Simply put, eating food is what gives us energy. If we stop eating properly or don’t eat enough, our energy levels are going to plummet. When you’re around your loved ones, if you notice they seem excessively tired or have considerably cut back on their normal exercise routine because they’re “just not feeling up to it lately”, that’s a flag.
3. MEDICAL TEST RESULTS
As much as possible, it’s important to be aware of your loved one’s cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. If you notice significant changes or they’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease (ex: diabetes or heart disease), there’s a good chance their diet has played a role in their declining health.
4. EMPTY FRIDGE AND PANTRY
This is a telltale sign your loved one isn’t eating right. Either they’re eating out all the time, which is hardly ever a healthy choice, or they’re simply not eating which is even worse.
5. FREEZER FULL OF PROCESSED FROZEN MEALS
On the opposite end of the spectrum from having no food in the house, sometimes your loved ones will stock up on heavily salted, unhealthy processed meals at the grocery store….and that’s all they eat! Most frozen meals from the grocery store are loaded with preservatives and don’t comply with any specific dietary concerns your loved one has, which can be problematic and make their health suffer.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
STOCK UP AT THE GROCERY STORE
Take the initiative to ensure that their cupboards are fully stocked with nutritious food options. You can’t force them to eat, but you can certainly do your part to make sure there is food available for when they want or need to eat.
PREPARE MEALS FOR THEM
If you’re able to commit the time and are familiar with their dietary restrictions, you can go the extra mile and prepare meals for your loved one. Some seniors are unwilling or unable to cook their own meals, so having someone do that part for them can make a world of difference.
HIRE A MEAL SERVICE
Not everyone has the ability to prepare meals for their loved one on their own, and that’s okay. You have a lot going on in your life. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Hiring a meal delivery service like Chefs For Seniors to provide customized meals can give you peace of mind that your loved one’s nutritional needs are being met.
Check out these video testimonials from some of our clients:
There are many reasons why food additives and preservatives are so prevalent in packaged, processed foods. For one, they help keep food fresh longer and reduce the risk of contamination. In some cases, like vitamin fortification in cereal, additives can enhance the nutrient value of foods.
While some food additives and preservatives aren’t harmful to most people, there are some that should be avoided. Here’s a list of 7 Food Additives and Preservatives to Avoid.
Trans fat has been a popular nutrition buzzword for the past 15 years or so. They’re created when companies add hydrogen to oil during the manufacturing process, which can change the texture and extend the shelf life of foods. The problem is that consuming trans fats has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
When reading labels at the grocery store, try to avoid foods that list hydrogenated oil (or any slight variation) as an ingredient.
Sodium nitrate is typically found in processed meats like canned tuna, sausages, and deli meat. Some studies have shown that consuming too much sodium nitrite can lead to pancreatic cancer and other significant health problems.
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)
MSG is naturally created from a chemical called glutamate and looks similar to sugar or salt. It can enhance the flavor of savory dishes and is usually found in Chinese food and fast food.
MSG has gotten a bad rap for years, with numerous claims in the late 1960s alleging that food prepared with MSG at Chinese restaurants made people sick; however, many studies report difficulty in finding concrete evidence that there is a problem with MSG. At the same time, some reports have indicated numerous reactions such as headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, rapid, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and weakness.
While the jury is still out as to how harmful MSG truly is, it’s probably best to limit how much you consume. The easiest way to do that is by limiting processed meats, fast food, and Chinese takeout.
ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLORING
Artificial food colors are chemicals used to color food and drinks. Most processed foods have at least a few of these colorings. The most harmful food colorings are:
- Yellow # 5
- Blue #1 and Blue #2
- Red Dye #3
- Yellow #6
- Natural Green Color
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is popular with food companies simply because its cheaper than cane sugar, but still provides the sweet taste consumers want. It’s believed that HFCS can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In the US, HFCS is found in tons of food products, and not just the sweet ones. Frozen pizza, cocktail peanuts, cereal, and even bread often contain HFCS.
Aspartame an artificial sweetener commonly found is diet or sugar-free sodas, chewing gum, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, and sometimes even chewable vitamins. It’s almost 200x sweeter than cane sugar, so manufacturers don’t have to use as much of it.
Numerous studies have shown that aspartame can increase blood glucose levels, and may even cause anxiety.
BHA & BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing the flavor or becoming rancid. Affects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has a potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants that form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
Loss of teeth is sometimes a symptom of aging, but just because you need softer foods doesn’t mean your nutrition should suffer. The following 10 foods are nutrient dense while also being easy to chew for seniors without teeth.
1. SCRAMBLED EGGS
Eggs are the most complete protein source out there and are also full of healthy fats. Soft scrambled eggs are easy to make and chew. For an added flavor boost, add a spoonful of cottage cheese or light sour cream to the eggs before scrambling.
2. MASHED POTATOES
If you leave the skins (which provide additional fiber) on, cut back on the butter, and use milk instead of heavy cream, mashed potatoes are actually a pretty healthy side dish.
3. WELL-COOKED STEAM VEGETABLES
Raw vegetables can be challenging for seniors without teeth. When cooking vegetables, try using a steamer instead of boiling them. Steaming helps retain the vegetable’s nutrients, as opposed to boiling that leaves most of the vitamins in the cooking water.
Smoothies are a great way to boost your diet, plus there’s no chewing required. Blend up your favorite fresh (or frozen) fruits, plain Greek yogurt, milk (can also use dairy-free milk), and any additional supplements (chia seeds, flax meal, acai powder, etc.). You can even add fresh spinach for a superfood boost – we promise you won’t even taste it!
5. FLAKY FISH
Flakier fish is easier to chew than meatier varieties. Opt for cod, salmon, or orange roughy instead of swordfish, mahi-mahi, or tuna. Eating fish at least weekly is a great way to get omega-3’s and protein. Baked or grilled fish is always much healthier than fried.
For seniors who aren’t lactose intolerant, yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein. Plus, it has probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria. Choose whole-milk yogurt instead of fat-free, which is usually loaded with sugar and other artificial ingredients.
Most soups, especially pureed ones, are pretty nutritious and easy to eat for seniors without teeth. There are 100’s of soups to choose from, some of our favorites include potato-leek, tomato-basil, and minestrone.
Old-fashioned oats are actually one of the healthiest breakfast foods you can find, in addition to being easy to chew. Try to avoid adding a heaping spoonful of brown sugar, instead opting for honey or soft fresh fruit.
9. SLOW-COOKED MEAT
Meats cooked over high heat are probably the most difficult foods for seniors to chew. In contrast, slow-cooked meats like pulled pork or beef stew are much better options for seniors that have difficulty chewing.
Beans are a healthy source of fiber and protein, and when you cook them long enough, they become completely soft. There are plenty of recipes available that include beans, such as refried beans, black bean soup, and baked beans.
If you’re a senior that’s struggling to plan and prepare soft-food diet meals, or a concerned loved one, click below to request more information on Chefs For Seniors customized meal preparation services.
If you have certain medical conditions or are recovering from surgery, your doctor may recommend a mechanical soft or soft foods diet. While these two eating plans sound similar, they’re actually quite different in terms of what foods are allowed and what they’re prescribed for.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between these two oft-prescribed diets.
MECHANICAL SOFT DIET
A mechanical soft diet focuses more on texture than ingredients. Mechanical soft foods are usually altered in some way so they’re easy to chew and swallow. It’s a useful diet for people for having difficulty chewing food, perhaps for some of the following reasons:
- Getting used to new dentures
- Recent stroke
- Missing teeth
- Just underwent radiation treatment
- Sore jaw
MECHANICAL SOFT FOODS YOU CAN EAT
One nice aspect of a mechanical soft diet is that it’s not too restrictive. As long as the foods you eat are cooked, shredded, blended, chopped, or ground you’re usually good to go.
Here are some examples of foods you can eat while on a mechanical soft diet:
- All dairy products except non-shredded hard cheeses
- Ground meats
- Flaky fish
- Nut butters
- Soft cooked vegetables – no seeds or skins
- Soups with finely chopped vegetables
- Anything pureed
- Gravies and sauces
- Soft bread
FOODS TO AVOID ON A MECHANICAL SOFT DIET
Below are some examples of difficult to chew foods you’ll want to avoid on a mechanical soft diet plan:
- Nuts and seeds
- Non-ground meats
- Breads with hard crust
- Hard candy
- Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables
SOFT FOODS DIET
Different than a mechanical soft diet that focuses on the texture of foods and ease of chewing, a soft foods diet emphasizes foods that are easy to digest. However, there is some overlap between the two diets as easy to chew foods are often easier to digest.
Usually, this diet is prescribed for people with gastrointestinal issues or post-discharge from surgery (especially oral or throat surgery). Oftentimes, patients in a hospital will transition from an all-liquid diet to a soft diet to ease the transition back into normal eating. Different than a mechanical soft diet, which can be a long-term eating plan, a soft diet is usually prescribed for just a few days or few weeks at most.
SOFT FOODS YOU CAN EAT
A soft foods diet plan is often low in fiber and lacking in spices, while emphasizing simple carbohydrates. Staying hydrated is also especially important for a soft foods diet plan.
Here are some examples of soft diet foods:
- Pureed fruit
- Canned vegetables
- Egg noodles
- White rice
- White bread
- Cottage cheese
- Mashed potatoes
FOODS TO AVOID ON A SOFT FOOD DIET
Here are some examples of high-fiber or difficult to digest foods you’ll want to avoid on a soft foods diet:
- Whole wheat
- Raw veggies
- Brown rice
- Carbonated drinks
- High fiber cereals
Many people believe that foods high in fat are bad for you. And for certain foods, that’s absolutely true. Saturated fats and trans fats should be avoided, and excess consumption can increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
However, there are also a number of fats that are very good for you. For example, one of the primary components of the Mediterranean Diet (consistently ranked one of the top diets by US News & World Report) is healthy fats.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY FAT?
The term healthy fat usually refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They help reduce “bad” cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol, which clogs your arteries. There is also research showing that healthy fats can help regulate blood sugar levels, thus decreasing the risk for type 2 diabetes.
These are simply fat molecules that have one unsaturated carbon bond. Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but turn solid when chilled. An example that almost everyone has in his or her pantry is olive oil.
In addition to reducing LDL cholesterol levels, monounsaturated fats also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your health. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant vitamin most seniors could use more of.
Different than monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats have MORE THAN one unsaturated carbon bond. They are usually liquid at room temp, but turn solid when chilled.
Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These fatty acids are necessary for proper brain function and cell growth.
Omega-3 fats help:
- Reduce the risk for an irregular heartbeat
- Slightly lower your blood pressure
- Slow the build-up of plaque
Omega-6 fats help:
- Control your blood sugar
- Lower your blood pressure
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU EAT?
The latest Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommends getting no more than 30% of your daily calories from fat. Most of those fat calories should be mono or poly unsaturated, as opposed to saturated or trans fats. Saturated fats shouldn’t make up more than 6% of your daily calories intake.
All fats, whether healthy or unhealthy, contain 9 calories per gram. Eating any type of fat is excess can lead to weight gain for seniors because they’re twice as calorie-dense as carbs and protein.
7 HEALTHY HIGH FAT FOODS FOR SENIORS
Here are 7 high fat foods that are extremely healthy for seniors:
1. FATTY FISH
Especially salmon, trout, sardines, and herring.
Fatty fish like the ones mentioned above are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, plus they’re a great source of protein. If you don’t care for the taste of fish, taking a fish oil supplement can be beneficial.
2. CHIA SEEDS
This may be surprising, but chia seeds are 80% fat. They contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and all of the carbs contained in a chia seed are fiber that can aid digestion.
You can find chia seeds at most grocery stores in the health food aisle, and they can be added or smoothies or oatmeal.
3. FULL-FAT YOGURT
Many yogurts you’ll find in the grocery store are low in fat, but high in sugar. Instead of reaching for those, look for high-fat whole milk yogurt. It’s loaded with probiotics, which can help maintain healthy amount of good bacteria in your body.
Healthy nuts include walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and numerous others.
They are high in healthy fats and fiber, while being a great source of protein. In addition, many nuts have high amounts of vitamin E and magnesium, both of which are essential nutrients.
5. DARK CHOCOLATE
This superfood is one of the healthiest desserts out there. It’s also very high in good fats.
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which research has shown can help reduce risks for various diseases like cancer. Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate 5 or more times per week are less than half as likely to die from heart disease, compared to people who don’t eat dark chocolate
When buying, look for dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa.
Real cheese, not the heavily processed kind, is actually very nutritious. It’s a great source of calcium, which can help seniors strengthen their bones. Plus, it contains vitamin B12, phosphorus, and protein.
Seniors with compromised immune systems may want to avoid soft cheeses like Brie, bleu cheese, and goat cheese, which can sometimes harbor harmful bacteria.
Different than almost all other fruits, which are carb-based, avocados are mostly fat. They are high in a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid and contain 40% more potassium than bananas. Like most monounsaturated fats, eating avocados helps lower LDL cholesterol and raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
Avocados are good for most seniors, except those needing a low potassium diet (aka a kidney diet).
The possibility of losing our cognitive abilities can be even scarier than the loss of physical abilities as we age. There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, affecting millions more people caregiving for loved ones affected by the devastating disease, with no cure at the present moment. Therefore, many seniors and their families are wondering what they can do to be proactive and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Many studies have shown there are a plethora of measures everyone can take to avoid Alzheimer’s disease, including:
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
- Learn new things
- Connect socially
While all of the above are healthy living practices everyone should follow, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus specifically on the impact a potentially revolutionary nutrition plan called the MIND diet can have on Alzheimer’s prevention for seniors.
The name MIND diet surprisingly isn’t in reference to the diet’s supposed ability to improve cognitive functioning. Rather, it stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND diet meal plan is essentially a combination of two popular diets, the Mediterranean and DASH, with an emphasis on brain foods shown to improve cognitive functioning.
THE HISTORY OF THE MIND DIET
Dr. Martha Clare Morris, an expert in nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, introduced the MIND diet meal plan in 2015. Her studies on the diet tested and compared the effects of the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets in adults aged 58-98 years. The study found that diligently sticking to all three diets was associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but only the MIND diet showed lower risk even with moderate adherence. Another study showed that participants who stuck to the MIND diet lowered their risk for Alzheimer’s by 54%.
In addition to the MIND diet’s effect on Alzheimer’s prevention, Dr. Morris and her colleagues recently studied the diet’s effect on the cognitive decline of stroke survivors. Those in the study who were highly adherent to the MIND diet had substantially slower rates of cognitive decline than people who didn’t follow the diet.
Given the newness of the MIND diet meal plan and relatively few scientific studies conducted, scientists still need to do more research, but the early results are certainly very promising. Some have even coined the phrase “Alzheimer’s diet” when referencing the MIND diet meal plan, and US News and World Report ranked the MIND diet #5 in its list of Best Diets in 2018.
FOODS TO EMPHASIZE
If you choose to follow the MIND diet for yourself or integrate it into the meal plan of a senior loved one, here are the brain foods you’ll want to emphasize and recommended number of servings/week:
- Leafy greens (spinach, mixed greens, kale): aim for at least 6 servings of leafy greens per week. In addition to cognitive benefits, leafy greens are high in vitamin K and many other essential nutrients.
- Other veggies: in addition to leafy greens, try to eat one additional serving of vegetables per day.
- Berries: aim for two or more servings a week. Smoothies are a great for seniors to get their weekly servings of berries.
- Nuts: five servings per week. Nuts are also a great source of protein and healthy fats.
- Whole grains: three or more servings a day. Common whole grains include brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
- Olive oil: replace butter with olive oil, and use it as your primary oil for cooking. Keep in mind that when sautéing, it’s better to use standard olive oil than extra virgin olive oil.
- Wine: a glass of wine, particularly red, a day has been proven to have cognitive benefits.
- Fish: at least one serving per week. Salmon is especially beneficial and is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids that have cancer-fighting properties.
- Legumes: at least three servings a week of beans or other legumes (peanuts, peas, lentils).
FOODS TO AVOID
Some foods to avoid include:
- Red meat: aim for less than four servings per week, and chose leaner cuts. Think tenderloin, not rib eye.
- Butter and margarine: less than a tablespoon daily.
- Cheese: less than one serving per week.
- Added sugar: avoid or limit unhealthy desserts, no more than five servings per week. Instead of pastries and ice cream, try dark chocolate.
- Fast food: it’s best to eliminate fast food altogether because it’s typically loaded with sugar and sodium.
One of the big benefits of the MIND diet meal plan is that it’s not a “fad diet” and doesn’t require you to eliminate lots of foods from your diet. Rather, it calls for moderation of unhealthy foods and emphasizing healthy brain foods. This makes the MIND diet easier to follow for seniors than more extreme nutrition plans like the Paleo diet or Vegan diet.
TIRED OF COOKING?
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