Changing Nutritional Needs and Eating Habits
As you age your nutritional needs may change, as may your eating habits. Things such as calories consumed, your appetite and home life may be things that change over time. Other factors such as medications, medical conditions and oral health may be contributing factors as to why your diet will change.
As you age you may find that your calorie needs decrease. For various reasons, you may find it easier or harder to lose weight. If you eat more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.
For example, if you’ve had a knee replacement and are less mobile than you were previously, you will find that maintaining your regular diet may lead to some weight gain. In order to maintain your weight, you need to balance your calories in versus your calories out.
It is common to experience a loss of appetite as you age. It’s also likely your sense of taste and smell will lessen. This can turn people off from eating normally.
It is important to find food items that you enjoy eating, or using a meal replacement to boost calories. Some brands to consider are Boost or Ensure. Some seniors find it easier to eat smaller, more frequent meals during the day.
It is important to get enough calories and nutrients to maintain healthy organs, muscles and bones.
You can imagine that your life at home influences your eating habits to a certain extent. For example, if you are cooking for one, you may be tempted to skip the cooking and order take-out. If you are accustomed to cooking for two, it can be daunting to cook just for yourself. More so, if you are just entering your retirement years and are used to having the family at home, it can be challenging to start cooking just for two. Finding some simple recipes tailored to one or two servings may be a way to approach this obstacle. We have linked to a couple of recipes for your reading (and cooking!) pleasure.
You may need to take medications to manage chronic health conditions. Some medications can affect your appetite or sense of taste. Some can also interact with certain foods and nutritional supplements. When you start a new medication, it is extremely important you check with your doctor or pharmacist for any dietary changes that need to be made.
For example, if you’re taking the blood thinner Warfarin (also sold as Coumadin), you need to avoid grapefruit. It impairs your body’s ability to metabolize that specific medication. You also need to maintain a steady level of vitamin K, which can be consumed in leafy greens such as kale or spinach.
As you get older, you become more likely to develop chronic health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. To help prevent or manage these conditions, your physician may recommend some dietary changes.
For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you should eat foods that are rich in nutrients, but low in excess calories, processed sugars, and saturated and trans fats.
Some older adults with certain health conditions become sensitive to foods such as onions, peppers, dairy products, and spicy foods. People receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer may also have a hard time finding foods that are palatable due to changes to the taste buds as a result from chemotherapy.
Oral health changes can impact how older adults enjoy their food. If you require dentures, you may find certain textures difficult to chew.
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is important. If food gets trapped under the denture, it can cause abscess and infection at the gum line. Some medications can also cause a condition called thrush, which is essentially a yeast-like infection that occurs in your mouth. When this happens, it can be very painful to eat solid foods.
How Can Freiheit Care Help?
Whether you are at home recovering from surgery or need just a little bit of extra help around the house, call us. We offer personalized packages that include an array of services, including meal preparation and light housekeeping. We can assist you or your loved one with cooking in your own homes, using your own ingredients, to help you cook a meal you’ll love.
Additional Information and Recipes
Below you will find a series of links that will direct you to websites with more information for eating as you age, as well as some easy recipes you can recreate at home!