Eating a balanced diet protects your physical and mental health, and this is especially true during a pandemic. The disruption of COVID-19 has most of us feeling stressed, and when things seem overwhelming, it’s easy to develop anxiety or fall into depression. Eating well and staying active are two major keys to battling those negative emotional states, and they’re an essential component of healthy living for seniors. If you’re caring for a senior, follow these nutrition tips to help you and your loved one keep your minds and bodies healthy.
· What is a balanced diet? A balanced diet plan includes essential nutrients, providing energy you need to get through the day. To make eating a well-balanced diet easier, plan meals and snacks in advance.
· Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and dairy are all important parts of a healthy, balanced diet. Try to avoid refined foods as much as possible, instead choosing foods that will better serve as fuel for your body.
· Get the right nutrients to combat anxiety and depression.
- Vitamin D helps stave off illness as well as the blues. It’s best absorbed through sunlight, but many of us are spending more time indoors right now. Make sure your diet contains Vitamin D-rich foods like fish, eggs, salmon, tuna, and foods fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, cereal, and orange juice. Taking a supplement can also help you get enough Vitamin D, but talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement.
- Antioxidants help protect our bodies and brains from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. When there are too many free radicals present, they can damage the fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. You can counteract free radicals with antioxidants, found in foods like fruits, especially berries, green leafy vegetables, orange bell peppers, beets, tomatoes, nuts, seeds, and beans.
- Get your Vitamin Bs. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and B9 are all good, but B12 is especially important to seniors. B12 has a number of benefits, from boosting immunity to keeping the nervous system healthy. Taking a B-complex vitamin or eating dairy, and fish, including salmon, can help.
- Minerals are an important part of a balanced diet. Magnesium, zinc, and copper help with mood as well as immunity. Calcium helps prevent bone loss. Take a multimineral or eat seafood, green leafy vegetables, eggs, dairy, avocados, tofu, whole grains, and sweet potatoes.
· Seniors can easily become nutritionally deficient. Look for signs that your loved one isn’t getting the right nutrients. A loss of appetite or interest in food, along with weight gain or loss, may be cause for concern.
· Stay hydrated. Drink plain water, or get your hydration from other drinks, like milk, tea, fruit juice, or smoothies, limiting your consumption of drinks high in calories and sugar. If you are on a sugar-restricted diet, limit your fruit juice as well.
You may feel overwhelmed at having to manage your aging loved one’s nutritional needs, but you don’t have to manage this alone. At BrightStar Care, we work hard to deliver the right care for your loved one and to be a partner you can turn to for support. Call 866-618-7827 or contact a BrightStar Care® home care agency near you to learn more about how we can help your loved one implement a balanced diet appropriate for their unique health needs.