Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and the traditional meal of turkey, pie, sides, and more can be chock full of nutrition...or not! Getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins and more is important for everyone, but especially those who may be receiving senior care. As we age, our nutritional and caloric needs change, but it can be difficult to change well-established eating habits. For instance, that pizza in college where you could eat six slices with no problem might cause you some issues ten, twenty, or even forty years later! It’s also a general trend that adults become less physically active as they get older, and our diets should reflect this reality if it applies. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and find out what’s good for seniors!
Turkey: When people think of Thanksgiving turkey, they often think of tryptophan and the post-meal sluggishness that’s an important part of urban legend. Interestingly though, turkey doesn’t have a significantly higher level of tryptophan than other types of poultry...so perhaps the sluggishness is a result of eating a massive meal in general! That being said, turkey is a great source of protein, which is important for seniors in elderly care to consume. According to the University of Arkansas Department of Geriatrics, “researchers noted that getting 1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight can improve health. This higher recommendation may boost immune health, aid in wound healing, help control blood pressure and even keep your bones as strong as possible.” Those all sound like great benefits, so eat up! Of course, we recommend roasting your turkey rather than frying to keep extra calories in check!
Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries have long been known as a “superfood” because of their nutritional and antioxidant makeup. They are a good source of Vitamins C, E, and K, as well as fiber...which could help with your post-meal digestion! Of course, most recipes for Thanksgiving cranberry sauce call for a LOT of sugar, often a cup or more. Might we suggest this recipe instead?
Potatoes: Potatoes are quite a versatile starch, and they can be prepared a number of ways for a Thanksgiving dinner...mashed, baked, scalloped, made into a cold salad, etc. One of the great things about potatoes is that they are easily chewed and digested...which can be really helpful for those who struggle with feeding themselves. Of course, how you prepare them will make a big impact on whether they’re nutritionally sound or not...if your loaded baked potato is as big as a football, then you probably ought to lay off the rest of the meal!
Pumpkin Pie: We have good news! This article can help justify having a slice (or two) of this quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. Although most pumpkin pies are also full of sugar, the pumpkin itself has some health benefits for seniors...like fiber, Vitamins A and C, and potassium. So, feel free to indulge a little on this very special holiday.
Thanksgiving is a special time, especially if you’re blessed enough to spend the day with loved ones and family. In addition to allowing people to spend time together in fellowship, the traditional Thanksgiving meal also provides a lot of wholesome nutrition - especially for seniors! Even though nutritional and caloric needs change over time, you can use the information in this blog to put together a turkey plate optimized for your health! If you have questions about how Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses can help craft healthy meals for those in senior care, please contact us today!