Not So Difficult to Watch What You Eat

As we enter the hot summer season, I am always reminding myself to encourage seniors and families to remain hydrated. You’ve heard this before…drink plenty of water to avoid and prevent dehydration.

Along this same line of thinking, please find below some tips on nutritional habits for the elderly (with acknowledgement to Nutrition is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, particularly for older people. Proper balance in diet is the key to good nutrition.

Notes on Nutrition

  • Reduce sodium (salt) intake. This will help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. At the supermarket, look for the “low sodium” label. Season meals with a few grains of course sea salt instead of cooking with salt. Personally, I never use any table salt. There is enough sodium in foods we prepare and prepare — no need whatsoever to add more.
  • Eat good fats.  Is this a misnomer? Not really. Such foods as salmon, avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, and other monounsaturated fats provide some “healthy fat” to your diet. Fat from these sources protects against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Consume plenty of fiber.  Lower the risk of chronic diseases, avoid constipation and feel fuller longer by increasing your intake of fiber. This includes raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
  • Stay away from the “bad” carbs.  This includes foods containing white flour and refined sugar. These carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. Replace them with whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. I use honey for sweetness, and I eat a banana (or portion) almost every day, along with blueberries in season, and apples.
  • Watch out for hidden sugar.  Sugar can be hidden in such foods as bread, canned soups (also high in sodium) and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Opt instead for corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. This may mean buying fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned goods, and low-carb or sugar-free versions of breads, pasta, and ice cream. My mea culpa: I love ketchup…I put ketchup on my ketchup.
  • Cook healthy.   Prepare veggies by steaming or sautéing in olive oil, which preserves its nutrients, rather than boiling, which drains nutrients. Pretty simple preparation tip…just keep the veggies out of the water. Let them cook with the steam from the boiling water.
  • Go for five colors on your plate.  This may include fruits and veggies rich in color and nutrients like blackberries, melons, pineapple, yams, tomato, onions, eggplant and zucchini. Obviously, we can’t do this every night. But I encourage fruits for some breakfast and lunch, and veggies for dinner.

– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a local southshore business providing in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at 781 378 2164; or online at: