Nutritional Advice

Nutrition in the elderly requires a balanced diet to keep fit and healthy. As people grow older their bones and muscles change, resulting in a decrease of lean body tissue and bone density.

As energy and activity levels decrease so too does the need to eat large portions of food. Having said that research shows that remaining active can help to maintain both mental and physical health. Keeping up the activities you enjoy doing will help to maintain physical fitness and preserve muscle tissue. This doesn’t necessarily mean intense exercise – gardening, walking to the shops, taking the stairs more often or housework can all count as types of activity.

Water is an essential nutrient serving many functions: adequate water intake reduces stress on the kidneys and can also prevent or ease constipation. As we age our ability to detect thirst declines so aim to drink eight glasses (or approx. one litre of water) a day to help your body to stay hydrated.

People of all ages require a variety of nutrients to stay fit and healthy. To meet your nutritional needs aim to eat a varied diet; eat all your meals regularly; have healthy snacks and drink enough fluids.

Because some older people may not be able to eat large portions of food, it’s a good idea to include more nutritious snacks like dried fruit or nuts in between meals to boost nutrient intake.

Below are examples of simple meals to prepare. We’ve also included information on their nutritional value.

Breakfast

Porridge

If you would like to make your porridge more interesting or to add variety you can add other ingredients e.g. a sprinkling of cinnamon, honey, chopped up fruits (berries, apple, banana, raisins). These ingredients will sweeten the porridge but also add lots of essential vitamins.

Preparation time – 10 minutes

Cooking Instructions

Take approx. 4 / 5 tablespoons of porridge oats – add milk or water, or a mixture of both, and cook over a low heat for approx. 10 minutes. When cooked add the cooked fruit, honey or cinnamon to taste.

Nutritional Value
  • Porridge is a great way to start the day. It’s a wholesome, filling, natural choice for breakfast – cereals and grains are major suppliers of carbohydrates, mostly in the form of starch in the human body. They are our body’s main source of energy. Oats take a long time to digest, resulting in a steady release of sugar into the bloodstream and a decreased release of insulin.
  • Cinnamon has extremely high anti-oxidant activity and the oil of cinnamon has strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is known to reduce sugar levels, lower cholesterol and reduce arthritis pain. If you’d like to sweeten your porridge, try replacing sugar with honey. Honey has been highly regarded for years for its healing properties.
  • By adding a variety of fruit to your porridge each morning you are ensuring that you are getting some of your five fruit and vegetables portions a day. Fruit generally has a high level of Vitamin C which is good to help fight the common cold. Fruit is full of anti-oxidants which may protect against heart disease and various forms of cancer.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon on Wholegrain Bread

Ingredients – Serves 2
  • 4 x free range eggs
  • 5/6 strips of smoked salmon
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 4 slices of wholemeal bread
  • Butter, a monounsaturated spread or margarine made from olive oil or rapeseed oil
Cooking Instructions – Cooking Time approx. 10 mins
  1. Whisk the eggs together adding a little salt and pepper to season. Preferably use low sodium table salt.
  2. Place over a low heat stirring until the eggs are almost cooked. Add the slivers of salmon. The salmon will change colour, turning a pale pinkish colour. Take off the heat and leave aside while preparing the toasted brown bread. Basically all you’re doing is heating the salmon slightly as opposed to cooking it through. You can also eat the salmon as a side dish to the eggs if preferred.
  3. At all ages we should try to limit our intake of saturated fats so apply a small amount of butter or monounsaturated spread over the bread.
Nutritional Value
  • Eggs have a high protein value and contain a full complement of the eight essential amino acid protein building blocks.
  • Essential amino acids must be included in the diet in order for the body to function properly. Protein is essential for growth and repair of body tissues and is a major component of every human cell; it is found in muscle, hair, bones, fingernails and forms part of enzymes and hormones.
  • Smoked salmon is a very good source of Omega 3 essential fatty acid which has been known to reduce the stickiness of blood therefore reducing the risk of blood clots forming. Omega 3 also appears to improve inflammatory based conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
  • Wholegrain is a very good source of carbohydrate, our main energy supplier, and it is also a very good source of fibre, which helps prevents constipation and protects against bowel cancer.

Lunch

Chicken Salad

Ingredients
  • Breast of chicken
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Beetroot
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • 1/5 Avocado
  • Roasted pine nuts
  • Toasted pitta bread

Cut up all the above ingredients into good sized pieces – mix together and use a dressing made from e.g. a dash of olive oil with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toast the pine nuts on a roasting tray in a hot oven for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown and sprinkle over the top of your salad.

Preparation time – 10 minutes if using left over chicken / 30 mins if grilling a breast of chicken

Nutritional Value
  • Chicken with the skin removed is a lean meat and a very good source of protein, supplying the body with essential amino acids needed for growth and repair of tissues.
  • Chicken is also easily digested and contains magnesium, iron and zinc.
  • It is very important to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Fruit and vegetables can help to boost our immune system. They may also help prevent various cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease. They also keep cholesterol levels stable and are full of anti-oxidants.
  • Avocado and beetroot are considered super foods because of their high levels of nutrients. Avocado is high in Vitamin E and beetroot is an excellent source of folate and a good source of iron.
  • Pine nuts are delicious added to a salad especially when slightly roasted. Nuts provide nutrients to people’s diet including protein, iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.
  • Pitta bread provides useful amounts of iron and Vitamin B1 and niacin.

Open Sandwich of Tuna, Spring Onion and Cheese

Ingredients
  • 2 x slices of wholegrain / brown bread
  • 1 x tin of tuna in brine
  • 2 spring onions
  • Low fat mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 x slices of cheese – cheddar, Edam, Swiss

While the bread is toasting mix the tin of tuna with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and chopped onions. Spread over the toasted bread, top with a slice of cheese and place under the grill until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Nutritional Value
  • Tuna is a good source of Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones. Oily fish in general is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acid which also helps in reducing inflammation.
  • Onions may help prevent cancer and circulatory disorders and may also prevent heart disease. They contain querticin – a strong anti-oxidant that can mop up harmful free radicals in the body which are known to potentially spark off cancerous changes and disease.
  • Hard cheese is rich in calcium and zinc but also high in saturated fats and soft cheeses are often lower in fat but also contain less calcium and zinc. Dairy products such as cheese contain all the essential amino acids so they are a good source of high-biological value protein.

Dinner

Salmon Steaks with Lemon and Butter. Mashed Potatoes and Steamed or Boiled Broccoli

Ingredients – Serves 2
  • 2 x salmon steaks
  • 4 potatoes
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 stalks of broccoli

Preparation time – 15 minutes / Cooking time 30 minutes

Cooking instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas Mark 6
  2. Peel potatoes and add to boiling water. To reduce cooking time cut the potatoes in half. When cooked, drain the water and mash the potatoes, adding freshly ground black pepper and small knob of butter or a tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Cut out two squares of tin foil and place the salmon steaks on top. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over each steak. Slice the remaining lemon and place over the steaks. Make a parcel with the tin foil, loosely wrapping it around the salmon, and place in the oven for 20 minutes at temperature setting 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 6.
  4. While this is cooking wash the broccoli and snip off the very bottom of the stems. Place in boiling water or ideally steam for approx. 5-7 mins or until cooked but with a slight crunch remaining.
  5. Use the sauce from the butter and lemon and pour over the salmon steaks.
Nutritional Value
  • Salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3 and protein.
  • Potatoes are a very good source of carbohydrates, our main energy supplier, and also a good source of Vitamin C as they are normally eaten in large quantities.
  • Broccoli is one of the richest sources of iron in the vegetable world and also supplies a range of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C and E and calcium.
  • Broccoli is good to prevent anaemia and may also prevent various kinds of cancer.

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme, Roasted Root Vegetables Including Carrots, Parsnips and Potatoes

Ingredients
  • 1 medium sized free range chicken
  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 medium-sized parsnip
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to season

Preparation time – 30 minutes / Cooking time 1.5 hours

Cooking instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to around 200 C / 400 F / gas mark 8
  2. Cut the lemon in half and place with one sprig of thyme into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken on a roasting tray.
  3. Take the other sprig of thyme, strip the leaves from the stalk and mix with the tablespoon of olive oil, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together and spread over the top of the chicken.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 6.
  5. Cover the chicken loosely with tin foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the tin foil after 30 minutes and leave to cook for a further 50 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.
  7. Chop the vegetables into large chunks and roast along with the chicken for the last 30 minutes.
Nutritional Value
  • Chicken is a lean meat which is an excellent source of protein that aids growth and repair of muscle tissue.
  • Carrots may help in preventing cancers of the mouth, stomach and lung. The contain beta carotene and if the body’s supply of Vitamin A is low, beta carotene can be converted into Vitamin A in the intestinal wall and the liver.
  • Parsnips contain niacin, a B vitamin needed for energy metabolism. They also contain Vitamin C. They help in the prevention of various cancers and heart disease.
  • Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C and carbohydrates.

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