A healthy diet can be a challenge for many people to follow, but it can become even more difficult as one grows older. Our older relatives can sometimes seem as fussy and stubborn as we were as children when it comes to healthy eating.
There are many reasons that an older person may not get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. Deteriorating oral health can make eating raw fruits and vegetables a challenge. That’s what happened to my mother, who used to love to chomp on carrot sticks until it became too painful to do so, after a lifelong struggle with dental issues.
My father was at the other end of the spectrum, and viewed raw vegetables with great suspicion, as if they were an alien life form. The only reason he gave was that he was afraid that anything crunchy or crisp would hurt his sensitive teeth. Dad hated going to the dentist. An apple almost killed him back in his younger days, so I could understand his aversion to that fruit.
Arthritis can make the preparation efforts required in slicing carrots or peeling an orange difficult, though there are plenty of prepared products these days that take the work out of it.
Taste buds can change with age, and with the sign of disease, including everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Seniors are prone to decreased appetites, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Medical conditions may require our older loved ones to be on a restricted diet, which may lead to resentment of further dietary interventions.
I recently was sent samples of Realgoods Foods Co. cauliflower margherita pizzas. I had already tried the company’s low-carb chicken crust pizza, which I liked. Since I have celiac disease, I’m always on the lookout for a new type of gluten-free pizza. I’m not a huge fan of cauliflower but it has become quite the trend over the last year or so. You can buy cauliflower rice, cauliflower mashed potatoes and now, cauliflower pizza crusts.
The pizza crust browned nicely and the taste of the cauliflower was noticeable, but not overpowering. While there are tips on how to get the center of the crust crispier, it might actually be an advantage for sensitive older mouths if the crust remains on the soft side. (Even my crunch-phobic father loved DiGiorno pizza.)
Realgoods also offers enchiladas, poppers and a breakfast pizza. (I’ve tried the enchiladas and breakfast pizza; both were tasty.)
Pizza can make for a fun family meal, and when in bake-from-frozen form, an easy one for busy caregivers to prepare. It can now be a good way to sneak in an extra vegetable and deliver a nutrition boost for our elder loved ones.
What tips do you have to give elders you care for a nutrition boost?