As we age, we often see our appetites begin to decrease, which can happen for a variety of reasons- health issues, low mobility, gastrointestinal changes, etc. With that said, it can be tricky to encourage seniors to eat nutrient dense foods when they have little to no appetite to begin with. Often, we see people reaching for convenience foods that can be high in inflammatory fats, sugar and processed ingredients that can make a low-functioning metabolism decline even more rapidly. Our approach is to increase nutrient density- not portion size. In this article, we’ll be discussing some nutritious, simple food options that can be fed to seniors with a declining appetite.
Avocados are mild in flavor, soft in texture and packed full of nutrients- most importantly heart healthy fats for healthy joints and optimal brain function. Avocados can be eaten mashed on a piece of whole grain toast or even plain with a sprinkle of salt.
Finely chopped or ground meat
A senior with a small appetite is likely to turn their nose at a large piece of meat, so we recommend using ground or finely chopped meat like beef, chicken or turkey in a dish. These allow for smaller portions, and ground meat can be more easily consumed by those who have difficulty chewing or digesting. We gravitate towards options like meatballs, chicken or tuna salad with herbs and seasonings.
Eggs are an inexpensive, widely available high-protein option for seniors- and most always have a carton in their refrigerator. Eggs can be prepared in a variety of ways- scrambled, or even hard-boiled in the fridge for an easy snack.
A commonality that we see among seniors is that with a declining appetite, they often reach for unhealthy foods that are high in sugar. Fruit smoothies give the benefit of curving a sweet tooth (from the naturally occurring sugars in fruit) while providing real food nourishment. We even like to sneak veggies like spinach into smoothies for an extra superfood boost…they’ll barely taste it!
Full fat dairy sources (Yogurt, soft cheeses, etc.)
Full fat dairy sources such as yogurt and soft cheeses (think cottage cheese and ricotta) are both appealing to the taste buds and easy to eat. For a senior with minimal nutrient intake, we prefer full fat dairy for the added boost of protein. For a touch of sweetness, you can add a small scoop of fruit preserves or stewed fruit.
For a large majority of the senior population, buying, storing and preparing food can be a real challenge. It can be easier to just avoid it all together, but this can lead to symptoms of malnourishment. By hiring a personal chef service like Chefs for Seniors, this can take the burden off of our elderly loved ones and provide them with tempting and delicious meals. We know that appetite is stimulated by the senses- smell, taste, sight and even sound! Let the aromas of homemade meals waft through the home and the sound of sizzling veggies and bubbling sauces on the stove promote positive associations with meal time- they’ll even look forward to it!