What is Meal Preparation for Seniors?March 2, 2023
A healthy lifestyle isn’t as easy to ensure as one might think. It’s usually far easier—and far more convenient—to eat meals that are high in sugar and trans fat. This leads many seniors to turn towards less healthy options. While these dishes might taste good, consuming them too often is bound to have a negative impact.
One of the best ways to ensure seniors are consuming meals with all the nutrients they need is through meal preparation. Over the past handful of years, the term has skyrocketed in popularity, but many older adults are still left wondering: what is meal preparation for seniors?
What is meal preparation?
Meal preparation is more involved than simply cooking a meal. For this process to work, you must plan the meal ahead of time, go grocery shopping for the right ingredients, prepare the meal, do the dishes, and clean the kitchen afterward.
Upon discovering all that meal preparation entails, many decide it is too time-consuming and write it off altogether. This is a common misconception. Meal planning and preparation actually saves you time and money in the long run. It eliminates time spent humming and hawing over what you’ll eat every day, as well as money spent eating out or on ingredients that go bad in your fridge.
This is a fantastic resource for seniors, as it’s easy to be paralyzed by the constant decision-making that comes with food. Instead of wondering what to eat for each meal, you’ll have a set schedule at the beginning of the week. Before you get started, just remember to plan in advance, find budget-friendly foods, and consider the preparation time of your meal choices.
Why is meal prep so important for seniors?
In addition to saving you time and money, meal preparation is fantastic for one’s overall health. As we age and develop health concerns, our nutritional needs are bound to change. As one ages, one may find they need a higher concentration of certain vitamins, less salt or fat, or that they’ve even developed a new allergy to be aware of.
When you run to the grocery store to pick up a microwavable meal or head to the drive-through for fast food, you can’t control what is in the food you’re eating. Meal preparation, however, allows you to do that. Instead of supplementing flavor with copious amounts of salt, you can make a nutritious and delicious meal rich in spices. You can supplement ingredients you’re allergic to with alternatives that taste just as good.
Can I get help with meal preparation?
Meal preparation might sound like the perfect option for you and your dietary needs, but that doesn’t mean the process isn’t daunting. Cooking is undesirable or difficult for many older adults, and mobility problems can make grocery shopping near-impossible. The kitchen itself can be a dangerous place for seniors with heavy equipment to move around, hot surfaces, and occasionally slippery floors that could result in a fall.
If this is something that concerns you about meal preparation, you don’t have to do it alone. Meal preparation is one of the many services that at-home caregivers can assist with. Your caregiver can work with you to create meal plans that fit your dietary needs and taste delicious. Then, they can go to the grocery store for you, cook your meal, and clean up afterward.
For those who still like to be included in the cooking process, that is no problem. Together, you can determine which steps you can handle, and which your caregiver can take over. This will not only help ensure you’re consuming quality meals but that you’re staying safe in your home.
What are some foods I should incorporate into my diet?
First and foremost: this all depends on the instruction of your doctor. Certain vitamins and minerals might be beneficial to some older adults, while others need something else entirely. Talk with your doctor about any dietary needs or restrictions before making changes to your diet. These key factors, however, have been shown to have a positive impact on one’s overall health.
- Eat enough protein. Protein is crucial to maintaining muscle strength. Add more seafood, dairy, beans, peas, and lentils to your diet to get enough protein.
- Find foods fortified with B12. This vitamin is great for red blood cell formation, nerve production, and the production of DNA. Seafood, fortified cereal, eggs, and beef are great ways to get enough B12.
- Incorporate more herbs into your dishes. Herbs are not only full of great vitamins and minerals, but are the perfect way to limit salt in your diet. Lemon is also a great way to get flavor without salt.
- Drink enough water each day. Staying hydrated regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, keeps organs functioning properly, and aids in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
- Avoid foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and sodium. Also avoid processed foods.
Hire an at-home caregiver to assist with healthy meals
If you would like the help of an at-home caregiver to start meal preparation, give Home Care Powered by AUAF a call. For 30 years, we have assisted seniors in the greater Chicago area with all their non-medical daily needs. In addition to meal preparation, we can help with light housekeeping, personal care, and even companionship.
For more information on our home care services, call us at (773) 274-9262.
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