I am not cooking anymore like I used to, and I find I am not eating regular meals. What are some good tips on how I can still eat well without cooking?
Nutrition is hugely important for our health. Eating enough nutrients provides our bodies with energy and stamina. We can think about eating as our fuel to keep us healthy and strong. As we age, we do not necessarily require the same amount of calories, but we still need all the good nutrients to power our bodies. If anything, this makes it even more important to get the most out of the meals you eat.
There are lots of reasons why as we age we may not prepare the same type of meals. For one, the act of cooking and preparing the food may be too tiring. Standing for long periods of time may be more difficult. Sense of smell and taste also change naturally over time. Sometimes medications can also alter our taste buds. The enjoyment you once felt for eating may have changed because of these physiological changes.
One tip is to make sure you are getting enough fluids. If you are on the go you may be wary of drinking too many liquids, but it’s important to know that dehydration is a very serious issue. Dehydration can lead to bladder infections and it can even mimic some symptoms of dementia.
Another tip is to use smoothies to add nutrition back into your diet. Fruit smoothies can include both fruits and vegetables to get the nutrients you need while still tasting sweet. You also add “instant breakfast” or protein powders to any smoothie to get more protein and vitamins. Purchasing a personal size smoothie blender can make this task easy and quick.
If you are no longer driving and therefore purchasing your own food is too difficult you can sign up for your local Meals on Wheels program. Call the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) at 805-477-7300 to get the contact for the Meals on Wheels program in your city. This program is designed to provide the nutrition you need all delivered fully prepared right to your door.
There are also programs where volunteers can do the grocery shopping for you. One is called Shop Ahoy. To see if they serve your city contact them at 805-236-1267.
There are many other prepared food delivery services, but some come from restaurants that may not be nutritionally sound. These are great for a treat occasionally but should not be a substitute for daily meals. I also recommend if you are going to treat yourself to a restaurant meal, you should dine at the restaurant so you enjoy the atmosphere and social aspect of going to the restaurant with friends.
Sometimes we simply don’t eat as well because eating can be more enjoyable as a social activity. You may want to invite friends to join you for a meal on a regular basis. If you don’t have a group of friends to join you then consider going to a congregate meal site at your local senior center. Along with Meals on Wheels delivered to your home the county also sets up meal sites where you can go in person to enjoy a nutritionally sound meal with others in your community. Call VCAAA at 805-477-7300 to find out the meal site near you.
Fuel yourself well and find new ways to incorporate healthy eating into you day. Remember, it’s the quality that counts to give your body what it needs most.
Friday, Jan. 31st 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Community Research Forum by the Alzheimer’s Association at NAMBA Performing Arts Space, 47 South Oak Street Ventura. Join us to learn about the landscape of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Science, the latest on advanced clinical trials and updates on our local work. Call 805-494-5200 for more information and to register.
Sunday, Jan. 26th 3p.m. – 4:30p.m.: Comedy Comes Alive! Come see comedian Jason Love perform at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Rd. Thousand Oaks, CA $7 a ticket. Purchase at the Goebel front desk or call 805-381-2744.