Whether you’ve been waiting for a break from the summer heat for months or dreading the end of planting season and endless flowers, winter cold is inevitable. Flu shots, plenty of hand-washing, and a hefty dose of holiday cheer and time with family can help you stay healthy and happy this season. But what about your diet? Nutrition is fuel for your body, so fill up with premium fuel and stay healthy all winter. These winter nutrition tips for seniors can help you enjoy the holidays, spend plenty of time with family, and avoid spending time in a doctor’s waiting room.
What to Eat for a Healthy Body
Some nutritional needs remain the same year-round. No matter where you live, you need plenty of protein and fiber to remain healthy. Eggs, fish, nuts, and lentils are great sources of brain- and muscle-supporting protein. Fruits and vegetables, especially foods like avocados and dark leafy greens, are rich in fiber to help you maintain healthy digestion. The following strategies can help you target common winter problems:
- Boost immunity with elderberry syrup or tea. A handful of small studies suggest that this supplement can reduce the risk of common winter ailments, including the flu.
- Increase vitamin D intake. The sun is a key source of vitamin D, which means that a person may become deficient during darker winter months. Vitamin D helps the body use calcium, and so low vitamin D increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are rich in vitamin D.
- Try eating warm soups and stews to fight winter chilliness. Lentils, chicken soup, and other hearty soups are great sources of protein.
- Add a smoothie to daily meals for a quick shot of fiber and antioxidants. Try mixing bananas, frozen berries, and avocados. Add peanut butter for a bit of extra protein.
Foods to Avoid
Conceiving of foods as “good” and “bad” can set you up for trouble, especially when you crave winter indulgences. Focus on moderation rather than avoiding “unhealthy” foods. Some ingredients to be mindful of include:
- Sodium. Apparently healthy food such as cooked veggies can be bad for your heart if there’s too much sodium. Many processed and prepackaged foods are likewise excessively high in sodium.
- Sugar. An occasional sweet treat is fine, but high-sugar snacks (including simple carbs like white bread) can drive up blood glucose and pack on winter pounds.
- Fried foods. An occasional fried treat won’t kill you, but healthy foods become less so when they’re fried in fatty oils. Fried foods are particularly harmful to people who suffer from liver issues such as gallstones.
Take Advantage of Seasonal Foods
Eating fresh, seasonal foods allows you to eat locally — and maybe even grow your own if you’re feeling ambitious. Some great seasonal fare includes:
- Root vegetables
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
For a fiber-rich, nutrient-dense snack, try mixing several winter lettuces into a salad and adding some grilled salmon and some lemon juice, or a few berries with some goat cheese.
Summer heat makes it easier to remember the importance of hydration. But you can get dehydrated in the winter, too — especially if you’re sweating in the heat while shopping or sweltering under many layers. Drink plenty of water all day, and consider carrying a reusable tumbler or water bottle to remind you to keep drinking. For even more nutritional value, try adding green juices to your daily hydration plan. Blend together some cucumber, lemon, kale, and any other greens you love, and drink your veggies.
Think About Long-Term Care Needs
The brutality of winter — and the illnesses it often brings — encourage many families to think about long-term care needs for seniors. Consider your long-term health, and assess whether your current living situation is working for you. The right senior living community offers effortless nutrition. Seniors can enjoy gourmet dining that’s customized for their unique nutritional needs. You don’t have to worry about grocery shopping, food preparation, or how you’ll stay healthy this winter.