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5 Unhealthy Eating Habits and How to Break Them

Seniors who live alone can easily fall into the habit of eating less healthily than they should. However, it is important for those receiving Lancaster elderly care to focus on a healthy diet as they age. Knowing the unhealthy eating habits your senior loved one is prone to and how to break them can help ensure he or she maintains proper nutrition. 

1. Eating Prepackaged Food

Food from cans, frozen dinners, and other prepackaged items are popular with seniors because of their convenience and simplicity. Cooking a balanced meal, especially for seniors who live alone and would only be cooking for themselves, can be difficult compared to heating up food that is already prepared. If you’ve found your loved one is eating large amounts of prepackaged food, consider subscribing to a meal service that delivers ready-made meals. Alternatively, if your loved one still enjoys cooking but is overwhelmed by the amount of time and work it takes, consider subscribing to services that deliver recipes and prepared ingredients to the door. This way, your loved one only has to make the food and doesn’t need to worry about choosing recipes or going to the store. A caregiver in Lancaster can also go grocery shopping and help prepare nutritious meals. If your loved one lives close to you, you could also bring meals to his or her home or invite him or her to join you. 

2. Choosing High-Sodium Foods 

The processed foods, canned foods, and frozen foods your loved one enjoys for their simplicity are also often packed with sodium as a preservative and flavoring agent. However, helping him or her limit salt intake is important since excess sodium can exacerbate problems seniors are prone to like water retention and high blood pressure. Encourage your loved one to eat low-sodium varieties of foods, use a salt substitute, and try other spices for seasoning. Your loved one may discover he or she likes some new spices and will be eating healthier as well. 

3. Consuming High-Calorie Snacks 

Seniors tend to be more sedentary than younger adults. They often have more time to be at home and get hungry, especially if they’re watching a lot of television with food commercials. This type of behavior can lead to your loved one snacking on high-calorie foods like potato chips. Encourage your loved one to stay busy with other activities to reduce boredom eating, and implement a plan to ensure he or she is making wiser snack choices. Make a list of foods your loved one can choose from for snacking and put the list in a prominent place. This way, your loved one will be more likely to choose healthier options. Include foods like nuts, veggies and dip, fruit, low-fat yogurt, and cheese. 

4. Drinking Sugary Beverages

Whether your loved one enjoys drinking soda or visiting the local coffee shop with friends, there are many ways for fattening drinks to make it into his or her diet. Since it’s recommended we don’t take in many of our daily calories from drinks, encourage your loved one to drink more water and low or zero-calorie beverages. Great options include flavorings for water, skim milk, iced tea with Splenda, and Crystal Light. 

5. Overeating

While some seniors eat less as they age, others face challenges with portion control for a variety of reasons. Many don’t need to consume as many calories or as much food as they used to. Some are used to cooking for a family and have a difficult time adjusting to cooking for one or two, meaning they tend to prepare more food than they need. In other cases, seniors simply like too much of the wrong types of foods and need adjustments to their diets. Whatever the reason, encourage your loved one to focus on healthy portion control and balance.

To ensure your loved one is eating a balanced diet and staying healthy, turn to Home Care Assistance. In addition to helping your loved one maintain a nutritious diet, our caregivers can assist with a wide variety of daily tasks such as exercise, grooming, and light housekeeping. For seniors who need more comprehensive care, we also offer Alzheimer’s, post-stroke, and Parkinson’s care Lancaster families trust. For more information, call one of our friendly Care Managers at (717) 540-4663 today.