An ageing population is one of the best things to happen to humanity. If we have healthy adults who are ageing that means we are doing something right with our health and nutrition. We have always been told to eat healthy and eat nutritious food that covers all aspects of the food pyramid. Drinking plenty of water, lots of green leafy vegetables in our diet, adequate B12 rich food and many more timely tips used to rule our decision on what to eat every day. These are good advice to follow and work great as we grow up. However, for senior citizens food rules are different.
There are a lot of myths surrounding how senior citizens should eat. While restrictive diets seem to be the most common solutions, they may not be correct for ensuring that you get the right nutrition. So here are a few myths we would like to debunk on senior nutrition –
Myth 1 – Loss of appetite is not a big deal
Appetite changes with age. The amount of food we wolfed down as teenagers is not something we can continue to do in our 40s. As we age our metabolism slows down and most seniors do notice a reduction in their appetite. It is fine if you are eating reduced quantities in comparison to your younger self but if you completely loose interest in food then we have to address the issue. A loss in appetite in seniors is an indicator of a more serious underlying condition. Monitoring weight on a regular basis for seniors is important to ensure there is no drastic weight changes.
Myth 2 – If metabolism slows down then you need lesser nutrients
Healthy nutrients can never be compromised at any age. Vitamin B12 and D as even more important to seniors than they are to a younger person. With age physical activity decreases and the appetite may reduce but that does not mean that nutrition quality should be affected. Seniors may not be able to absorb natural nutrients, so it is important to supplement. A physician can help one identify supplements as per their needs.
Myth 3 – If you are thin then you can eat as much sugar and salt as you please
Being thin is not an indicator of being healthy. Several thin people suffer from underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. Irrespective of one’s frame, adopting a healthy diet will always be advantages. Excess consumption of salt and sugar has also shown to adversely effect seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Myth 4 – Its okay to eat at random times
Blood sugar must be maintained at optimal level for seniors. Skipping a meal can play havoc on the blood sugar levels. It can also cause one to overeat in the next meal. If eating one big meal is problematic, then the meals can be split into 5-6 smaller meals. Craving for foods with high sugar and salt increases when one skips meals. Hence it is not advised that seniors skip meals or have long gaps between their meals.
Myth 5 – Only artificial supplements are good for seniors
Taking multivitamin and calcium tablets without consulting a physician is a common mistake seniors’ make. Over the counter supplements should not be taken unless prescribed by a physician. A balanced diet can take care of the majority of the nutritional needs for a senior and if necessary, an additional supplement can be taken on advice of a doctor.
Myth 6 – As long as one is eating; they are healthy
What you eat matters. If you are opting for packaged food as it is difficult to cook or too tiresome to cook, then it has no benefit. Most packaged food is high in preservatives, sugar and salt. These can pose major health risks for seniors if not regulated.
Myth 7 – Avoid food if constipated or have bloating
Quality of food needs to be monitored for every meal. Constipation and bloating are conditions caused due to the irritation of the bowel because of consuming foods that are not suitable for you. High fibre food is extremely important for seniors. If you are having problems of bloating or constipation, it is best to review your food menu. Consult a physician if you need immediate relief and work with a nutritionist to put yourself on a diet that is suitable for your gut.
Prevention is always better than cure and a good meal plan can take care of you better than any medicine. Seniors needs to understand the importance of eating balanced meals to ensure that they do not face discomfort at a later stage.