Healthy eating tips and tricks
Published on 28 September 2023
Did you know that malnutrition is considered to be a significant contributing factor to the declining physical and mental capacity of older people? Malnutrition – which is a serious health condition that occurs when a person does not get enough nutrients to support their body's needs – increases a person's risk of falls and fractures, owing to muscle weakness and poor bone density.
As such, malnutrition is a key reason why many older people may need to enter residential aged care earlier than they would like.
To ensure your diet stays as healthy as possible as you get older, you need to be aware of the nutritional value of the types of food you regularly eat. As we age it’s often the case that we eat less, which is why it's so important to make sure we are still getting enough vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D and omega-3s.
With that in mind, here are our eight tips to help you eat better.
1. Take stock of your diet
Seeking the advice of a dietitian is one way to determine how well you are eating. Another way is to keep a short food diary for a week or two and capture exactly what you’re eating, rather than what you think you’re eating.
Take note of the times you eat as well as any liquids you consume. If you’ve experienced unplanned weight loss or gain without making any intentional changes to your diet or exercise, keep track of this in your diary too.
2. Try something new
If you need a little more motivation or inspiration in the kitchen, why not try challenging yourself with a new recipe? You could also look at trying a new food each week, as you might be surprised to find there are a lot of nutritious ingredients out there that you enjoy.
Alternatively, look at making some smart swaps with your pantry staples. For example, perhaps try a new bread with higher fibre.
3. Think small
Small food changes can make a big difference. Herbs, sourdough bread, apple cider vinegar and traditional fermented foods such as sauerkraut are great for getting our digestive system back on track.
4. Keep an eye on the time
If you are forgetting to eat, here are some ideas to assist you:
- Set a timer to remind you when to eat;
- Eat smaller meals more often if big meals are too much;
- Ask for help to clean out your fridge once a month;
- Consider purchasing a large digital clock that displays the date and day so it’s easier to keep track of the time.
5. Good tools can make the world of difference
Arthritis can make cooking and preparing food more difficult. Obtaining a referral for an occupational therapist can ensure you receive a full review of your needs. It will also give you access to new tools for preparing food.
Some examples include:
- A fridge the provides a freezer at the bottom, can reduce bending;
- Non-slip cutting boards;
- Plates designed for use with one hand;
- Easy to use can openers and jar openers to allow you to open things one handed.
6. Eat together when possible
Boredom and social isolation can impact your diet and reduce your interest in food. Eating with others is a proven way to boost appetite and wellbeing, so we encourage you to get together with others and enjoy meals with a side of great conversation.
7. Address any underlying health issues
There are many physical issues that may get in the way of adequate nutrition or a lack of interest in eating:
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing. An assessment by a speech pathologist may be beneficial;
- Pain while eating or ill-fitting dentures. Visit the dentist for a review;
- Constipation. A nurse or dietitian can review the causes of constipation and suggest solutions. AccessCare’s nursing team can assist with this;
- Medication. Talk to your GP for a medication review.
8. Set up or increase support services
If you are finding it more difficult to go food shopping or cook meals, AccessCare can support you with this. We can go shopping for you or accompany you on a shopping trip, and can help you prepare some meals at home.
You can also consider our Delivered Meals service too, where fresh, healthy meals are delivered straight to your door. In fact, we also have textured meals available for people with medical conditions that affect swallowing. We can also have multiple meals delivered on one day if that’s what you need.
If you have any questions about how to eat better at home, or if you'd like more information about the services we offer to support good nutrition, please contact our team on 1300 819 200.
Download our nutrition ebook(PDF, 3MB)