Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increasing Nutrients Key to Healthful Meals for Seniors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increasing Nutrients Key to Healthful Meals for Seniors

Article excerpt

Wilma Griffiths thought hard, trying to remember what she had for dinner last night.

"A glass of milk," she said, finally.

The Akron, Ohio, woman is among the millions of older Americans who don't eat right.

"I don't cook very much," Griffiths says.

About half of the older adults in Ohio are at moderate nutritional risk, estimates V.M. Remig, assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Akron.

The reasons are numerous: Cooking for one is too much trouble. Eating alone is depressing. Chewing is difficult. Cooking is hard work.

Older adults don't have to haul out the Cuisinart and the cookbooks to eat properly, though. Even small changes in the diet can make a big difference in how they feel.

They can use less fat when sauteing, add more vegetables to casseroles, and use lean ground round or turkey instead of sirloin in chili.

"What we're trying to get across is you can take the same foods you always eat and cut down on the fats -- you'll get the flavor without all those extra calories added to it," says Fran Merda, dietitian at Laurel Lake, a retirement community in Hudson, Ohio.

Cutting the calories and increasing the nutrients is the key to eating healthfully for seniors, Remig says.

Older adults have the same nutritional needs as younger adults, but their energy needs have decreased. The challenge is to choose foods wisely to get enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein without gaining weight, Remig says.

Here's where seniors are at particular risk, Remig and Merda say:

Fluids. Many seniors don't drink enough liquids because they are concerned about incontinence accidents, or because they just don't get as thirsty as they used to. They become more dehydrated, and unable to rid the body of waste and toxins.

Seniors need 8 cups of fluids a day. …

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