Senior Care: Sneaking a snack between meals is an inalienable right for all grown-ups, and people over 65 have certainly earned the right to eat when they want.
And snacking won’t hurt a senior nutritionally, unless he or she takes in too many calories altogether from snacks and meals. The keys to healthy senior snacking are small portions, healthy meals, and choosing nutritious snacks rather than snacks that have empty calories.
Snacking Regulates Blood Sugar and Maintains Nutrition in the Emaciated
For diabetics, eating several small, healthy meals a day in preference to three big meals is usually recommended. That’s because eating small amounts on a frequent basis keeps a steady stream of fuel in the system. So the person who eats small amounts throughout the day does not get the blood sugar crashes and overloads that eating big meals can cause.
Hypoglycemia is a lesser blood sugar disorder, but it’s also pretty common. People with hypoglycemia also need to snack in between small meals to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
Snacking is also recommended for seniors who are underweight and have trouble getting enough nutrition. Loss of appetite can accompany a number of health conditions including heart disease, respiratory disease, and liver damage. Many seniors find it difficult to eat a full meal in one sitting. In that case, pushing snacks is an ideal way to rebuild a healthy nutrition profile.
When Snacking Is Unhealthy
Snacking gets a bad rap even though it might be desirable for many seniors. However, snacking becomes unhealthy if your senior is taking in too many calories and gaining weight or obese.
Snacking is also undesirable if your senior frequently nibbles on cookies, chips, sodas, fried foods, and pastries. In general, seniors (along with everyone else) need to reduce or eliminate processed sugar, partial grains like white bread, excess salt, and saturated fat.
Senior Care:What You Can Do To Encourage Good Snacking
Of course, no one wants the job of asking dad to change his diet. But it’s often possible to make a few substitutions. Your mother or father might be willing to try non-fat yogurt in place of ice cream, a banana instead of a cookie, cucumber wedges instead of chips, whole-grain crackers instead of white grain crackers.
Finding healthier snacks and encouraging the eating of them may be a matter of trial and error. If at first, you don’t succeed, keep trying. Senior care aides can be your allies in this battle. Ask your senior care specialists to make sure that good snacks are on hand, and that they have been presented in an attractive way.
In conclusion, snacks are not the enemy of your senior. They may, in fact, be a healthy way to regulate blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight in people with appetite loss. See if you can get your senior to snack on nutritious foods like raw fruit, vegetable sticks, and yogurt, and whole grains instead of junk food.