In Part 1 of this series, we discussed some of the science behind why eating well as an older adult becomes a challenge. Losing the sensations of taste and smell pose a challenge to finding satisfaction during mealtimes. The question now is, how does one eat well during the senior years despite these changes?
What does “eating well” look like?
Tufts University created the following graphic to help older adults understand the type of variety they should be trying to include in their diets. It is based off the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with some additional, specific guidelines for seniors. Including a variation of foods and flavors is a great way to keep mealtimes interesting which may be able to counteract some of the difficulties of aging.
How can we specifically combat decreased taste and smell?
As our sense of taste and smell begin to decrease, food may become boring and bland. Quickly, the appeal and joy of eating diminishes. While adding more salt, sugar or butter may be a desired option, many elderly diets are not able to accommodate such additions due to dietary restrictions. Even without dietary restrictions, drowning foods in sugar, salt and fat is not the healthiest option. While these delicious substances are okay in moderation, here are some other ideas of how to increase the pleasure of eating when taste and smell are weakened:
- “Spice” things up: Fresh or dried herbs and spices are a great way to increase the flavor of dishes. Using other condiments, marinades, citrus juices, cheese and other flavorings where permitted can also enhance the quality of a meal.
- Stimulate the other senses: Including a variety of colors and textures can interest other senses such as sight or touch. Describing meals out loud or on paper may also increase the appeal.