Little information is written about cooking for seniors. In most cases, what people choose to eat as they age changes slowly and therefore, unnoticed. However, many seniors either fall into nutritional categories of malnourished or obese for the first time in their lives.
We intend to explore and detail some of the normal senior physical changes in eating habits and desires. In doing so, we hope that people will continue to enjoy the foods that they always have as they age and find more nutrition in the food that they do eat.
Not everything here is meant for everybody. Drastic changes in diet should always be reviewed with a family doctor before implementation. If there are any medical issues such as diabetes, digestive problems, or medications are involved, changes in diet and physical conditions should be medically monitored. In general however, changing to a more healthy diet is in every person's short and long term best interest.
There are several challenges that have to be met when cooking for seniors. While there are no two people alike, many if not all of the same concerns need to be addressed.
The older that we get, the less we tend to be able to taste our food. This is not always just a matter of the taste buds. Humans tend to pick up some flavors with our noses, more than with our mouths.
Ingredients such as salt are almost exclusive to the mouth, but cinnamon is a nose flavor. Unfortunately, age affects our ability to smell as well as to taste with our mouths.
Though it does vary, seniors need food to have much more flavor than younger adults. In cooking for seniors, you will need 2-12 more flavor for the same enjoyment.
Getting the flavor
It is widely suspected that one reason that seniors prefer to eat less is that they don't taste and therefore, enjoy the food. Imagine eating a rice cake every day. Even with a bit of condiment, this gets old, fast.
The problem is that the two ingredients that we use most often to flavor food are salt and fat. While most people can have a moderate amount of each, many seniors are on salt restricted diets or have problems with high blood pressure.
Fats are necessary ingredients in foods, but people who are sedentary or dealing with weight issues need to be careful. If you are trying to reduce cholesterol levels, you have more of an issue because you have to watch the kinds of fats that you eat.
Salt and fat are cheap flavor enhancers and are therefore, included in many processed foods. Some restaurants also add quite a bit to their dishes to enhance the flavor.
Packaged, prepared dinners are certainly fast and easy to cook, but perhaps one of the biggest reasons that seniors choose these foods are that they can taste them. They are full of salt!
The price that many seniors pay however, is that high salt and bad fat foods take a toll on their health. Problems with high blood pressure and water retention are associated with salt. Fats often add contribute to vascular diseases and clog biological processes.