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20 Tips to Help Seniors Stick to Their Diets at the Holidays

December 22nd, 2016

Picture the typical holiday table and you’ll likely envision an abundant spread of stuffing, turkey, latkes, and pies. Now imagine navigating all that and trying to stick to a low-sodium, low-fat, or low-sugar diet. That’s the challenge in front of seniors who must follow certain dietary restrictions because of a heart condition or diabetes. With a few easy substitutions and omissions here and there, you can help your dad or mom stick to his or her diet and feel like they are a part of the holiday meal. Keep reading for 20 tips for holiday meals that are low salt, low fat, and low sugar.

Holiday-Healthy-EatingTips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Sodium Diet

  1. Flavor foods with garlic, flavored vinegars, and herbs, such as rosemary or thyme.
  2. Keep salt shakers off the table. This will prevent guests from automatically sprinkling it on.
  3. Check with your doctor before feeding your parent a salt substitute, such as potassium chloride. These can have negative effects on aging kidneys.
  4. If using canned beans or vegetables, choose salt-free varieties, or rinse generously.
  5. When buying a store-bought turkey, read the label carefully to be sure it hasn’t been injected with saltwater to create plumpness.
  6. Bake with unsalted butter.
  7. Think twice before setting out trays of salted nuts, olives, or processed deli meats. These contain a lot of salt, and it’s easy to lose track of servings.

Tips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Fat Diet

  1. Serve your parent white meat from the turkey. It contains less fat than dark.
  2. Trim skin off poultry.
  3. Make gravy with low-salt broth, skim milk, and flour.
  4. Instead of mashed potatoes, give mom or dad a baked potato. These are full of magnesium and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.
  5. Replace half the called-for fats and oils in baking recipes with unsweetened applesauce, canned pumpkin, or sweet potato puree.
  6. When a recipe calls for dairy, go for the low-fat varieties.

Tips to Help Your Parent Stick to a Low-Sugar Diet

  1. Watch portions of cranberry based recipes, which can contain a surprising amount of sugar.
  2. Cut back on sugar in recipes and supplement with cinnamon, vanilla, citrus, or nutmeg.
  3. Don’t just skip dessert—this may make mom or dad feel left out. Many specialty bakeries make sugar-free desserts, or you can .
  4. Satisfy a sweet tooth with sugar-free Jell-O, or unsweetened applesauce warmed and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  5. If serving post-meal coffee or tea, leave out the sugar and provide guests with a cinnamon stick or lemon wedge instead.
  6. Choose sauces and salad dressings with no added sugars.
  7. When baking, swap out half the required sugar for pureed bananas or pears.

If all else fails, limit/reduce portions of their absolutely favorite item so they can still enjoy it as they wish.