Parenting a Parent: Nutrition Tips for Seniors

eatright.orgIn March, Great Care and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrate National Nutrition Month. The month is the chance for seniors and their caregivers to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

“During National Nutrition Month and beyond, make an effort to cut back on food and beverages high in added sugar, sodium and saturated fats,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Lisa Cimperman. “Take the time to find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to food.”

According to the website for older adults, eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits.

“Eating well may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia,” says NIHSeniorHealth. “If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.”

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugar, sodium and saturated fats, as many Americans follow diets too high in these components. Cimperman suggests choosing foods and beverages with no added sugar whenever possible.

She also suggests reading food labels and avoid buying foods with added sugars like high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, honey, agave or maple syrup.

“Also, drink water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice instead of sugary beverages. Choose snacks with no added sugar. Eat plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt with whole fruits such as berries or pears,” Cimperman says. “Grill fruits such as pineapple or peaches for a naturally sweet and healthier dessert. Eat smaller dessert portions. Often a bite or two will satisfy your sweet tooth.”

Sodium, especially in senior diets, can be a concern as salts are added during commercial food processing and preparation. Cimperman suggests buying frozen or canned products without added salt, and fresh poultry, seafood, pork and lean meat rather than processed meat and poultry.

“Cook meals from scratch to control the sodium content of dishes,” she says. “Buy fewer jarred sauces and pre-flavored products. Flavor foods with citrus, herbs and spices instead of salt.”

Reducing saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of calories per day is also an important goal of National Nutrition Month. Saturated fat is found in foods such as meats, whole milk, cream, butter and cheese. Unsaturated fat, which includes polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, is found in foods like oils, fatty fish, nuts and seeds.

“It’s important to understand the different types of fats, and reduce your intake of saturated fats by replacing them with unsaturated fats,” Cimperman says. “Drink fat-free or low-fat milk (1-percent) instead of 2-percent or whole milk, and eat low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese, oils instead of butter and lean rather than fatty cuts of meat.”

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website ( includes helpful articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Consumers are also encouraged to follow National Nutrition Month on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using the #NationalNutritionMonth hashtag.

About Julie S.

Julie Sullivan is the Owner at Great Care of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Great Care is a licensed, personal services agency, providing in-home care services to the Indianapolis, Indiana and surrounding areas. We serve the personal health and daily care needs of seniors or individuals who prefer to stay at home, but require assistance with everyday activities, such as dressing, personal hygiene, meal preparation, laundry or errands. Our team of certified nurse aids and home health aids can provide you with personalized, in-home care services to meet your needs, including:
• Daytime hourly in-home care
• Temporary or post-hospital respite care
• 24-hour, around-the-clock home care
• Morning and evening care
• Overnight / Slumber care
In addition, we offer our Care Compass service, to assist in setting the course for the next stage in your loved ones life. We guide you through the currents of aging, and help you find your true north. Our licensed nurses, with experience in hospice and geriatric care, will help guide you through the complex and often sensitive journey of selecting an in-home care service, and will provide a smooth transition to a new way of life for your loved one, without the anxiety and fear.
Our current nursing and management team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the home healthcare services industry. All of our caregivers are bonded, insured and screened thoroughly, so you know you’ll be receiving the greatest care possible. That’s why we stand by our mission: to deliver the same, quality care we expect for ourselves and our loved ones.