As we mentioned in our IndiaFit Report 2020: India’s Ikigai – The Secret to Longevity, there are some folks who manage to live long and healthy lives thanks to their discipline, but most people usually find their health crumbling. In old age, a human either becomes disinterested in eating or can’t manage their meals due to medical conditions which make eating difficult. There is a loss of appetite as anxiety, depression, irritability or gastric trouble become commonplace.
The body of the elderly needs to be cared for and fed with good food so that it helps in combating stress, depression, fight inflammation and pain. With the growing rate of diabetes in the mid-40s, by the time a person reaches 70-80 years of age, the damage done to the organs by diabetes or any other lifestyle disease is unpredictable.
Healthy Eating Tips for the Elderly
It is important that the elderly eat small meals at frequent intervals. The diet should be a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In fact, the food should be appealing. Let’s see how we can incorporate all of this:
- The diet of the elderly should contain complex carbohydrates like Wheat, Oats, Ragi, Jowar, Brown rice and should avoid refined cereals like white bread and maida.
- Protein is a very important nutrient because there is a lot of muscle wastage that occurs in old age. Loss of skin tone, loss of skin elasticity is profound. The diet should include good sources of proteins such as lentils, dals, soybean, milk and milk products. For non-vegetarians, boiled egg whites every day is recommended. Opt for skinless chicken which can be grilled, roasted or used in soups.
- Healthy fats are essential to protect the heart and provide essential vitamins such as vitamin E which protects the body organs and nourishes the skin. Include soaked almonds, walnuts, dates, dried figs in the diet in the form of morning snacks. Fish like Salmon provides Omega 3 fatty acids which help fight against cancers.
- As we age our digestive system slows down. Many face a problem digesting fiber. While it is easy to consume salads or raw veggies, for some, it is difficult and leads to constipating, bloating or gassiness. In this case, it is better to consume vegetables which are boiled or steamed. Unstrained vegetable soups and vegetable smoothies are good options as well.
- Including 1-2 servings of fruits every day is crucial. Fruits not only regulate blood sugar but also provide essential minerals and vitamins to the body.
- The most important thing is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and hydrate! Especially at old age, it is more important to consume 2-3 liters of water every day. Having 1 glass of warm water immediately after waking up stimulates the body cells. For improving digestion, consuming 1 glass of warm water half an hour before and half and hour after meals is a must.
- Don’t forget to include anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. They will help protect against bone disease and reduce joint pains while protecting the heart. Consuming ginger water in the day helps treat various digestion related issues as well.
What’s an Ideal Meal Plan?
If you need a roadmap or an ideal plan, here it is:
- Start the day with a glass of warm water, lemon water or ginger water with half tsp of honey.
- Eat a healthy breakfast consisting of oats porridge, khichdi, vegetable idli, paneer dosa or poha with a glass of milk or boiled egg white.
- Mid morning should contain a fruit which can be an apple, guava, watermelon, pears, banana, papaya or you can have a mixed fruit bowl as well.
- Lunch should include roti or rice with 1 bowl dal, a bowl of vegetable curry, 1 salad and 1 bowl of curd.
- Dinner should be the same as lunch, although, it should be lighter. Cut down the quantity of rice/roti. Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed to ensure proper digestion.
- Before bed, drink low fat milk to ensure good sleep and provide your body with calcium for strong bones. You can also add turmeric to it for extra benefits!
Before you undertake this meal plan or decide to follow it religiously, you need to consult your doctor or nutritionist to check how it may affect any existing medical condition you may have. Along with all kinds of fruits, veggies and healthy foods, don’t forget to stay active!
For more tips on good health for the elderly, tune in to Mukesh Morwall’s ‘Age Less’ sessions on GOQii Play. We hope these healthy eating tips for the elderly help you #BeTheForce! Do share your thoughts in the comments below.