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How to Snack Right

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Snacking, we love and hate to do it. We love the salty chips, the sweet candy, but we hate the feeling we get after finishing a whole bag of the things. What if you could snack without the guilt?

Now, it’s not completely possible, because too much of anything really is not a good idea. But you can start moving in the right direction when it comes to what you’re eating and what you’re buying at the store to keep on hand.

The problem many of us have is temptation and the ability to resist. We all know that going to the store hungry is not the best idea. But what if you’re getting a craving for chips and decide to just get a bag to last the month? You know what will happen during that next movie night, the chips will be gone!

There are a few solutions to this, which we’ll discuss below.

Limiting Your Quantity of Bad Snacks

Bad snacks are all the ones we love to eat: chips, Oreos, cookies, candy, donuts, gummies, Pop Tarts, etc. You know the ones I’m talking about. The problem isn’t that you’re eating them, it’s that you’re eating too much. If you eat out of the whole bag of chips, it’s impossible to know exactly how much you’ve eaten. There was a study about giving people at a movie theater a big container of popcorn and giving others a smaller container. Who do you think ate the most popcorn? Those with the big container. These people even ate more stale (14 day old) popcorn when it was given in a big container!

We can use the results from that study to help us limit our bad snacking, but still get to indulge every once in a while. Instead of eating from the bag, put the chips or cookies on a plate and only eat that amount, no more. Once you can see what you’re eating, you’ll slow down so you can savor the flavor.

Eating More of the Right Stuff

If you need to snack in order to quell your appetite, you need to be eating the right stuff. This means vegetables, fruits, nuts, granola, yogurt. This is all stuff we don’t think of as fun snacking. But if you want to snack smart, especially at work or on the go, start making your on snack packs. This will prevent you from allowing yourself to get chips or a candy bar from the vending machine because you’re hungry. Now there’s no excuse because you have your own snacks with you.

We don’t eat enough healthy snacks because the flavors don’t excite our brain as much as unhealthy snacks do. Bring a variety of snacks with you when you’re on the go and keep them in your pantry. Having a variety means you won’t get tired of eating the same celery sticks over and over.

Here are some ideas:

  • Celery and nut butter
  • String cheese
  • Beef jerky
  • Protein bars
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Bean or kale chips
  • Dark chocolate
  • Mixed nuts

Snacking doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to make the conscious effort that you’re going to stick with the healthy stuff and that you can indulge every once in a while with portion-controlled amounts.


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Healthy eating as we age

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Eating well should be a goal at any age, but especially as we get older. When we age, we need to watch how the changes in our bodies interact with the items that we’re consuming.

A healthy diet is key to living a better life. It will help improve energy levels, allow you to better fight off illness, and give you the mental acuteness you need.

How does our body change?

There are multiple processes that take place in our bodies as we age.

These include:

  • Lowered senses: Our sensitivity to salt and bitter leave first, which may make you want to add more salt to items.
  • Digestion slows: Your digestive system slows down, meaning it is more difficult to process certain vitamins and minerals that are important for mental alertness.
  • Metabolism slows: Adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine will help avoid unnecessary weight gain

What should I be eating?

The key is the find foods that are healthy and delicious. It is one thing to try to eat lots of kale and spinach, but if you dislike the taste you will end up getting sick of the items quickly.

Here are some foods you should be including in your diet:

  • Fruit: (2-3 servings per day)
  • Vegetables: (2-3 cups per day) of dark, leafy greens (spinach, broccoli) and colorful veggies (carrots)
  • Grains: (5-10 ounces) Stay away from processed white flour and try more whole grains with nutrients and fiber
  • Oils: (5-8 teaspoons) Eat foods full of healthy oils like olives, avodacos, and nuts
  • Calcium: Limit your milk consumption to 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat types. 1 cup of yogurt, 1-1.5 oz of cheese, 1 cup of cottage cheese.
  • Protein: (5-7 oz) Eggs, tofu, nuts, peanut butter, fish, poultry

Snack smart

You can snack between meals if you feel yourself getting hungry. But be sure that they are healthy snacks low in calories, sodium, saturated and trans fat. These include items like Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, and grilled chicken.

More fiber

As we age, our digestive systems become less efficient. That means we need to be eating much more fiber than we used to. Women over 50 should be eating at least 21 grams per day and men over 50 should eat at least 30 grams.

Here’s how you can get your fiber in:

  • Whole grains
  • Wheat cereal, barley, oatmeal
  • Beans and nuts
  • Vegetables like carrots, celery
  • Whole fruits (including the peel)

Skip the sugar & empty calories

We probably don’t need to be reminding you, but stick to drinking water. Sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and energy drinks may taste great but they are not doing your body any good.

Also stay away from “empty calories” which include many items in the middle aisles of the grocery store including cookies, alcohol, and chips.

Resources

Healthy Eating after 50
National Institute on Aging

Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
National Council on Aging

Eating Well As You Get Older
NIH Senior Health


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Senior Malnutrition

Worried your elderly loved one might be malnourished?  This helpful and simple infographic we’ve dug up nicely overviews what to look out for, and what to do when you see it!  And, as always, remember that Just Like Family is here to help you: contact us at (239) 431-6661.

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Medical Advice from the ‘Net

If you’re looking for elderly-specific advice on some difficult medical issues, we’ve got you covered.  Check out these links for a lot of great information.

 

ALZHEIMER’S

CANCER

DENTAL

DIABETES

EXERCISE

HEART DISEASE

INSOMNIA

NUTRITION

OSTEOPOROSIS

STROKE