The holidays are a special time of year when we get to come together with family and friends and enjoy traditions – new and old. We find comfort in these traditions, which often center around food, and bring us together as we share one table.
But, for our aging loved ones, these favorite foods can pose a health challenge if we aren’t mindful. Whether you’re a senior or are celebrating with one, we hope you’ll take advantage of these six healthy holiday eating tips for seniors.
1. Plan Menus Ahead of Time
Added years usually create a slower metabolism. This makes it both easier to gain weight and necessary to consume smaller portions to maintain a healthy number on the scale. If you plan menus ahead of time, you can easily accommodate special health needs such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies, and joint inflammation.
Serving holiday meals in the afternoon rather than at night is also a healthy move because it gives everyone a better chance of burning off the fare. To make holiday traveling as comfortable as possible, plan for possible mealtime changes by sending along some snacks for everyone.
2. Set Limits on Your Indulgences
Holiday temptations often mean sweets and lots of carbohydrates. Unless a health condition prevents it, some indulgence makes for pleasant memories. A few guidelines can help seniors avoid the urge to overindulge.
- Make sure to eat protein to balance carbs
- Eat a light protein snack before a party to reduce temptation
- Take a seat away from tantalizing buffets or dessert platters
- Substituting 2-percent milk for sweetened evaporated milk in that favorite pumpkin pie recipe won’t sacrifice taste, but it will cut calories.
- Avoid consuming heavy fare late at night.
- Eat smaller portions of high-calorie foods to enjoy the taste while consuming fewer overall calories.
3. Limit Alcohol Intake
A drink or two to celebrate and toast with your family or friends is perfectly okay and encouraged! Just be mindful of your overall alcohol intake. We recommend alternating between your champagne, eggnog, or favorite drink and a non-alcoholic drink. Hosts can offer a variety of alternatives such as calorie-free drinks, sparkling water, tonic water, juices, and decaffeinated tea and coffee to mark the festive event.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is especially important for senior health, even during the colder months. Water helps flush toxins and cleanses your body more quickly than anything else you could drink. Don’t forget to take a few sips at intervals throughout the day. Keeping the refrigerator stocked with bottled water makes this easy. Sit-down meals should include a filled water glass for each diner.
5. Get Creative with Flavoring
Salt, pepper, and butter are staples at many holiday tables. Before deciding whether you need to add some, make sure you taste the dish in question. If it needs just a little something, there are plenty of ways to please senior palettes by substituting spices.
A little extra spice in gravy can make up for the potatoes with reduced butter or margarine under it. Cinnamon, citrus, and vanilla can all substitute for sugar in a recipe. Seniors should be sure to help themselves to plenty of flavorful and healthy foods such as cranberries that are typically associated with the holidays.
6. Get Moving
If the weather permits, invite everyone at the celebration to take a walk together after they’ve finished eating. Moving is particularly important for senior health after a large meal, when the temptation is to take a nap. Avoid letting those calories settle in by walking, even if the pace isn’t very fast or if you need to limit yourself to strolling around the house. Taking a walk can accomplish wonders for the body all year long.
Contact Relative Care for Assistance
Would you like to enjoy healthy holidays with lasting memories and solve some senior-related challenges? We offer a single source of complete care for seniors, with both in-home care and nursing services. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about how we can help you. Be sure to call us today at (610) 269-2935 or fill out our online contact form to take advantage of our free in-home consultation.