4 Myths about Senior Nutrition
By: Derek Hobson
“You are what you eat,” so next time you’re eyeing that pastry in the counter window, consider whether you’d want an arm made of fried carbs dipped in sugar or an arm made of vitamins and protein.
Many people assume that if they don’t eat sweets and adhere to organic food, they’ll be okay… but even that may not be the case. It wasn’t long ago that we were told to drink 3 glasses of milk a day to be healthy… until a study came out in Sweden that revealed 3 glasses of milk a day will decrease your life expectancy (by as many as 20 years).
This is why we thought it was important to go over 4 myths about senior nutrition. If you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to know the facts from the fiction.
Myth 1: Eating Healthier is Always Better
Many elders think that if they follow the food guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), they’ll be happy and healthy. This isn’t necessarily true.
Make no mistake, the USDA has decades of research to back up their findings, but the food pyramid (in particular) is meant to be a guideline. It works for the average person, not elders and their specific care needs. For instance, if you’re at a high risk for diabetes, then their serving sizes may be harmful for you.
A proper diet is crucial to healthy living, but it’s important that the diet caters to your needs and not the other way around.
Myth 2: Decreased Appetite is Normal
It’s true that as you get older, you have less energy and a slower metabolism, but you shouldn’t lose your appetite overnight. A decreased appetite is anything, but normal. It can be symptomatic of sleep deprivation, depression, or something else entirely. For elders, especially those rapidly losing weight, this is cause for concern. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor.
Myth 3: Being Overweight is not a Problem
Being overweight is not the same as obesity, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. A lot of peoples’ elderly parents and grandparents have a bit of gut, so we tend to view that as a normal development, but it’s not. That gut can shorten your lifespan by 10 years – and your health span by 20.
Some elders may not necessarily be overweight, but their spine is slowly giving out causing their bellies sag — that’s what leads to back problems — among other things. Additionally, being moderately overweight puts you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and even Alzheimer’s. So don’t accept it as “normal.”
Myth 4: Eating Alone is Healthy
There was a time when eating alone was the mark of a secure and confident person… not with elders.
First, factor in meal preparation. Elders who eat alone are most likely living alone which almost never ends well – especially since isolation has been linked to dementia. This type of lifestyle leads to elders forgetting to turn the stove off and burning a hole in their kitchen (if not the whole house to the ground).
Second, many elders who eat alone have worse nutrition since they choose what’s easy to prepare versus what they need to survive.
And third, it often results in a loss of appetite since there’s no conversation to distract them. Seniors need social gatherings to keep their brains active and stimulated. It’s not uncommon for those eating alone to grow pessimistic and depressed. Going out to eat is good for the mind and body.
When it comes to senior nutrition, you need to find a diet that you and your doctor agree upon. Don’t follow fad diets or listen to alleged age-old wisdom, you need to find out what works for you.
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