The holiday season is just around the corner and millions of people are looking forward to sitting around the family dinner table. The holidays usually conjure images of delicious meals, family time and plenty of leftovers. However, those holiday meals can do some real damage to seniors who suffer from certain health conditions or dietary restrictions.
Eating Right During the Holidays
- It kind of goes without saying that a great number of traditional holiday dishes are much worse for you than “regular” food. When you consider the caloric content, total fat and amount of sugar that goes into preparing a holiday meal, it’s easy to see how unhealthy these foods truly are. Seniors often struggle with weight gain as a result of indulging in holiday meals, so it’s important to provide some healthy alternatives on the menu. In addition, you can offer your loved one smaller portions of food to prevent overeating.
- Timing is everything when it comes to holiday meals. Many older adults suffer from health conditions that force them to follow a very strict diet. For instance, if your loved one is diabetic, it’s important to schedule meals at a specific time. Eating on a schedule can help to prevent hyper- and hypoglycemia, allowing your blood glucose levels to maintain an acceptable level.
- Creating an appropriate meal plan can make a huge difference. Let’s say your loved one is required to follow a cardiac diet (a diet low in sodium) due to a heart condition. You’ll want to take that into consideration as you’re planning the menu and provide food options that are suitable.
- Offer alternate healthy options for the holiday dinner. When you opt for healthy items, your loved ones aren’t left feeling sluggish and heavy after dinner. Instead of offering sweetened tea or soda to drink, avoid extra calories and sugar by going for iced water. You can also prepare healthy appetizers and desserts for your guests.
- Doing a little exercise after a holiday meal can really have an impact on older adults. That doesn’t mean everyone should run a marathon after taking that last bite of food; it simply means that some light cardio will help to burn off calories and get your heart pumping. After dinner, encourage your loved one to accompany you on a short walk around the neighborhood.