A Well-Stocked Freezer and Pantry Can Mean Better Nutrition for Seniors

A Well-Stocked Freezer and Pantry Can Mean Better Nutrition for Seniors

(ARA)- For many older adults, getting to the grocery store is not as easy as it used to be.
In fact, one in five adults skips meals daily according to the Nutrition Screening Initiative's determine your Nutritional Healthy Checklist. And for seniors, sometimes walking, shopping, purchasing and cooking their own food can be a challenge.
However, nutrition experts say that eating right and maintaining good nutrition is key to healthy aging, and so seniors need to develop other strategies for eating right. Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician and instructor at The Art Institute of New York City, suggests that a well-stocked freezer and pantry can go a long way toward helping seniors eat better when they can't get to a food market.
"Frozen and canned foods can provide a good diet if appropriate products are purchased, such as frozen veggies without the addition of butter sauces," says Amidor. She recommends broccoli, carrots, string beans and other vegetables high in beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. For the pantry, Amidor likes lower sodium canned goods, including low sodium veggies and soups.
Seniors can get Vitamin D, which works along with some calcium to help strengthen bones, by keeping powdered low fat milk their pantry. In general, most seniors don't get enough fluid in their diet, so Amidor recommends they drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
For older adults with local support networks--friends, family and neighbors--getting to the grocery store is much easier, as is the opportunity to share meals. "We know seniors will eat more when they eat with others, so this kind of social interaction is especially important as we age," says Niki Wray, a registered dietician and Instructor at The Art Institute of Phoenix.
Wray recommends www.dole.com or www.5aday.com: "One of the students made the 'Baked Chicken with Mandarin Sauce' from www.dole.com and found it to be a great source of calcium, Vitamin A and C." In addition, the recipe uses evaporated milk, which can be stored without refrigeration until opened.
In addition, Wray's students at The Art Institute of Phoenix study senior nutrition and plan a menu following the Tuft's Food Guide Pyramid for seniors available at http://nutrition.tuft.edu.
Another obstacle to good eating habits as people age may be economic background. According to Wray, "lower income seniors tend to be at risk for eating less calories and getting fewer servings from different food groups like fruits and vegetables. Without social support and finances, eating nutritiously may be compromised."
An alternative to keeping frozen or canned goods on hand is a program called Community Supported Agriculture or CSA (http://www.localharvest.org/csa/). This program, available in many communities, links farms with families that want fresh fruits and vegetables. For a seasonal fee, which can be split between neighbors, farm fresh produce is delivered right to a home.
Although fresh fruits and vegetables are the optimum dietary choice, some seniors find them too tough to chew. Besides peeling fruits before eating, properly fit dentures also make it easier for seniors to chew fruits and vegetables. "I have seen appetites and food consumption increase within an elderly population I once worked with by just buying a denture adhesive--the older individual's were so happy that they could chew properly again!" says Amidor.