Finding nutritionally-balanced, convenient snacks for the elderly is a great way to supplement the diets of those whose appetites and health is waning. Many elderly individuals eat inadequate portions at meals, making snacks a significant part of the diet. Here are some pointers to help you please a senior's palate.
Aged individuals have different nutritional needs than that of younger adults and adolescents. Diseases like diabetes change people's dietary requirements, making some snacks necessary for maintaining balanced blood glucose levels. In addition, elderly aches, pains and conditions like arthritis can make meal preparation a daunting task, which can further necessitate the importance of healthy snacks.
Below are ways snacks can play a significant role in an elderly individual's life:
- Social value. Snacks are a great way to integrate healthy eating into social situations, offering seniors opportunities to mingle over a mug of cider and a homemade treat. Social interaction is an important part of life, helping the elderly stay active and energized.
- Health. Healthy snacks are nourishing. They help supplement the diet, filling in nutritional gaps.
- Activity. Food preparation can be a pleasant activity. Some individuals still desire to work in the kitchen, though operating certain appliances and fixing a full meal is sometimes complicated. Fixing finger foods and other snack items is a small-scale way to keep seniors cooking.
Snacks for the Elderly
Choose snacks based on the individual tastes and dietary needs of the elderly individuals you feed. While prepackaged goodies are handy in pinch, natural snacks are the best choices, as they are unprocessed and free from additives and excess salt and sugar. Here are some healthy snack ideas for the elderly:
- Precut Veggies. A mixed bag of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower are a colorful treat, packed with essential vitamins. Make a tasty dip to dollop on, or eat them as is.
- Fresh Fruit. Apple wedges, orange slices and banana halves make a sweet snack in summer or winter. If you are making a platter, toss cut fruit in a bowl with a few tablespoons of lemon juice to preserve the color (brown bananas and auburn apples are not appealing!).
- Nuts. Nuts are a crunchy alternative to chips. They are a rich source of antioxidants, healthy fats and calories.
- Cheese. Sticks, slices or wedges. Cheese makes a satisfying snack.
- Popcorn. Make your own in an air popper or on the stove. Season lightly with salt or cinnamon.
- Boiled Eggs. A great source of protein.
- Finger sandwiches. Make your own tuna on rye, peanut butter, cucumber or cheese sandwiches. Cut them in small squares to make them more appealing to light eaters.
On-The Go Snacks for the Elderly
There are times when travel interferes with your otherwise healthy eating regimen. You may be tempted to grab a sack of greasy burgers from your favorite food chain. However, healthier options can be just as accessible. Here are some snacks to gobble on the go:
- Whole wheat crackers, pretzels or chips
- Rice cakes
- Natural Granola, granola bars or trail mix
- Dried fruit
- High Fiber Cereal
Toss these snacks in a small sealed container or plastic bag and enjoy on any outing.
Fiber and Fluids
Fiber and fluids are essentials in the elderly diet. Reduced activity due to mobility issues often contributes to constipation in the elderly. In addition, older individuals often lose their sense of thirst, which can lead to insufficient fluid intake, causing dehydration and increasing bowel problems. Don't forget the fiber and fluids when preparing elderly snacks. Offer tasty beverages that are low in sugar and include milk for critical calcium. Tea, decaffeinated coffee and juice are examples of good fluid choices.
Use snacks for the elderly to meet basic nutritional needs and encourage companionship.