Often times as you get older, you experience changes in smell and taste causing food preferences to shift. Most of the time food might taste bland or you’ve simply lost your appetite. Chef Barry from Vista Prairie’s Monarch Meadows Senior Living in North Mankato believes eating healthy after 50 doesn’t need to be complicated. He has developed some tried and trued methods to help seniors eat healthy in spite of these changes.
One of the biggest barriers Chef Barry sees in senior living is an aversion to health foods. In his Culinary Club he presents new and unusual menu items to residents and explains their origin and merit. He receives feedback from residents on what works and doesn’t work for them, but he also gets them to try new things. His goal is to combat the changes in aging bodies, specifically changes in digestive systems and slowing metabolism, decreases in blood flow, as well as the increased likelihood of contracting foodborne illnesses as you age.
Chef Barry’s main concept to overcoming the barriers of healthy eating after 50 is all about presentation. “Presentation is the key to making food taste good. Not only does the food have to smell good, but it absolutely must look appetizing,” he explained.
Chef Barry and his team have been working on the presentation of their dishes. “We serve brightly colored vegetables and if a meal looks a bit washed out, we spruce it up with a splash of color in a garnish,” he said. Some of their favorite additions are cranberries, parsley – which also cleanses the palette – pickled beets, spiced apples, lettuce, marinated tomatoes and slices of citrus fruits.
Serving up healthy dishes is very important to Chef Barry. “Once we hit 50 our bodies just don’t work as well as they used to. Medical conditions may arise, health complications such as heart disease and diabetes start to develop, and our habits change.”
As you age, your behaviors change too. Sometimes you may not be as active as you once were. Eating nutritious foods and maintaining active, healthy lifestyles are important missions of Vista Prairie Communities. Chef Barry and other Vista Prairie chefs host a variety of programs to encourage and support healthy eating such as Culinary Club and Health Food Sunday.
Easy Go-To Health Foods
They offered up some healthy go-to foods and meals that are big hits in their communities and are easy for other seniors to try:
- Different types of rice
- Substitute lean turkey or chicken for beef
- Vegetable lasagna
- Low sodium soups and vegetable juices
- Sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes
- Gluten-free breads and pastas
- Limit sugar intake and look for ‘no sugar added’ foods especially desserts
By maintain a healthy lifestyle and eating well, you have a greater chance of slowing the internal aging process. Choosing healthy foods is a smart thing to do – no matter what age you are!