According to SA health, a worrying number of older adults have poor diets. There are many contributing factors to this, including a lack of variation in diets and too few nutritional foods. Appetites often fade with old age too. Therefore, it is essential that older adults keep their meals exciting and varied to avoid boredom. If you’re looking for new ideas for your own meals or meals for your elderly parents or relatives, there are many nutritional factors you must consider.
Making sure you get plenty of vegetables and legumes (such as beans and chickpeas) into your diet is essential for nutritional value. In addition, make sure you are getting a good balance of fibre, protein, vitamin D, fats, and salt. In terms of fluids, be sure that you’re drinking a lot of water. Statistics show that the average Australian only drinks 1.29l of water per day. This is drastically below the recommended 2.0l for females and 2.5l for males. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to dehydration due to physiological changes in the ageing process, so water is of the utmost importance. Despite this, it is recommended to abstain from drinking a lot over mealtimes — fluids will fill you up, and with a decreased appetite that comes with old age, eating all of your food is essential for good health.
With this information in mind, let’s talk recipes! In this article, Straight Stairlifts Akron run through some mealtime suggestions for older adults.
Many deem breakfast to be the most important meal. It can dictate your energy levels for the rest of the day, so it is essential to eat well in the morning. Go for a substantial, hearty breakfast such as Aussie style bubble and squeak.
Aussie Bubble and Squeak (serves 2)
- 1tbs olive oil or cooking oil spray
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 eggs
- 500g leftover veg of your choice (carrots, pumpkin, and mashed potato all work well)
- Using a non-stick pan, heat up the oil, then add your vegetables.
- Fry your vegetables until they are well-cooked and slightly browned (roughly 5-10 minutes).
- When your vegetables are cooked through, add the frozen peas and fry for a further 2 minutes on a low heat.
- In a second pan, heat the cooking oil spray over a medium heat.
- Crack your eggs into the pan and fry to your liking.
- Serve the eggs on top of the vegetables and season well with salt and pepper.
As you get older, your body finds it more difficult to digest food. Because of this, it is recommended that you switch the typical lunch and dinner foods around. Eat a larger meal in the middle of the day and you’ll have plenty of time to comfortably digest it. Choose an easy one-pot meal such as a casserole to prepare in the middle of the day.
Chicken and Mushroom Casserole (serves 4)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 chicken cutlets (bone in)
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 300g button mushrooms
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Rice or couscous to serve
- Toss the chicken fillets in the flour until they’re well coated.
- On a medium heat, fry the chicken in the olive oil in a large pan until suitably browned.
- Add your onions, garlic, and celery to the pan, stirring regularly for 5 minutes.
- When the onions have softened, add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and the fresh thyme and bring to the boil.
- Cover your pot and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the cornflour with 2 tsp of water until smooth.
- After 15 minutes, check that your chicken is thoroughly cooked and then add the cornflour mixture to the chicken mixture.
- Cook until the sauce has thickened and then stir in the frozen peas for the final few minutes.
- Serve with rice or couscous and season to your liking.
Make sure you don’t go hungry in between mealtimes with some healthy snacks. Fresh apples and bananas are perfect for keeping your energy levels up. For those who have difficulty chewing, a banana is the best option. If fruit isn’t enough the quench your hunger, go for some Vegemite on wholemeal toast!
As discussed earlier, it is advisable to have a smaller meal in the evening. You should give your body as easy a job digesting as possible. This way, you’ll be able to sleep well after your evening meal. A soup is a great choice for dinner, especially for anyone who has trouble chewing in their old age.
Zucchini soup (serves 4)
- 2 large zucchinis, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 rasher bacon (remove for vegetarian option)
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 250ml cream
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to season
- Set up the shredding mode on your food processor.
- Add the zucchinis, the onion, the celery, and the bacon to the processer and grate.
- After the veg and bacon has been thoroughly grated, place them all in a large saucepan.
- Add your stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Partially cover and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Once all the mixture and the stock has thoroughly combined, stir in the cream and season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Put the moisture back in the processor bowl (using the all-purpose mode) and whiz up the soup until it’s smooth and creamy.
- Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and lemon rind.
Staying on top of your diet can be difficult in old age, but simple, one-pot meals will help you keep your nutrition on track. If in doubt, reach out to friends or relatives. You could even have a full cooking day with a family member and then freeze individual portions so that you’re sorted for the week. Another option is looking into meal delivery schemes such as Meals on Wheels Australia. Prioritise your health and satisfy your appetite — you’ll feel healthier and more energetic throughout the day!