By Patti Vogl, LSW, Certified Care Manager
Most of us know that nutrition plays a vital role in aging well.
Healthy eating means consuming a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This combination helps to ward off diseases including type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet and for seniors can be especially beneficial in helping to maintain a sufficient energy level for physical activity and in maintaining a proper blood sugar level between meals, which helps to control overeating.
Just the word “snacking” can be misleading, as many of us think of items such as chips, cookies, and candy. These foods and other store-bought snacks are typically high in fat, sodium, sugar, and preservatives. We often reach for these items when we are hungry because they are quick and convenient. Although grocery stores today do carry a much larger selection of healthy snacking choices, old habits die hard. Many of us grew up with much less emphasis and understanding of nutrition than there is today. Additionally, our lifestyles are very busy today, and so we tend to reach for those easy-to-grab snacks that we can take when we are on the go. While there are grab-and-go snacks that can fit into a balanced diet, some of the healthier choices do require some minimal preparation.
Following are some nutritious choices for healthy snacking for seniors:
- Prepackaged cheese sticks or slices of low-fat cheese
- Whole grain popcorn
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Hardboiled eggs
- Tomato slices with feta or mozzarella cheese and drizzle of olive oil
- Greek yogurt with fresh berries or other fruit
- A glass of low-fat chocolate milk or almond milk
- A handful of almonds, pecans, or walnuts
- Carrot and cucumber slices with hummus
- Baked chips with salsa
- Cottage cheese with fruit or with flax seed and cinnamon
- Dark chocolate
- Whole wheat toast with avocado
- Frozen grapes or frozen banana
- Apple or banana chips
- Whole-grain crackers with peanut butter
- Whole grain toast with tuna
- Whole-grain pretzels
- Watermelon or cantaloupe chunks
- Whole grain, low sugar protein bars
Healthy snacking is one way to make sure that seniors are getting all the vitamins and nutrients that their body needs. It can also prevent overeating at mealtimes. It is equally important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Many seniors do not drink the recommended number of glasses of water each day, which can also lead to overeating as well as dehydration.
The USDA’s MyPlate Program was designed to assist older adults in meeting their nutritional requirements. More information on nutrition tips for seniors can be found at https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/older-adults.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).