The heat and humidity of summer can reduce the appetite and make it difficult to get essential nutrients. When seniors don’t eat or drink properly, they run the risk of becoming malnourished or dehydrated. Finding foods that are delicious, nutritious and can hydrate is helpful, especially in the summer months. Here are some snacks that are packed with nutrients without being high in salt and sugar.
The great thing about snacks is that they can solve many nutritional challenges for seniors and caregivers:
- Small appetites: snacks are the perfect small food size
- No appetite: snacks are colorful and can be appetizing in appearance
- Dulled taste buds: snacks can include slightly spicy foods that improve taste while not impacting digestion
- No interest in eating alone: snacks can be eaten throughout the day while watching TV or engaging in other activities
- Maintaining blood sugar: healthy snacks help diabetics maintain proper blood sugar levels throughout the day
- Digestive challenges: grazing on healthy snacks is easier for the digestion than trying to eat three large meals a day
- Caregiver challenges: for caregivers concerned that their loved one isn’t eating enough, it’s easier to prepare and leave a range of snacks for consumption during the day than it is to prepare a large meal
Easy snacks to prepare
There are endless varieties of snacks to prepare and leave for a loved one to eat throughout the day. Here are some that are especially good in the hot summer months. Choose the ones that meet your loved one’s dietary needs and preferences and also meet their individual ability to chew and swallow.
- Ice cream/frozen yogurt/soy ice cream: There are endless varieties of ice cream available in the supermarket. If your loved one is lactose intolerant, there are many lactose free varieties. Some supermarkets carry individually-sized portions of ice cream that can be placed in your loved one’s freezer.
- Popcorn: Believe it or not the recommended serving size for popcorn is six cups. That may seem like a lot but it fills an average size bowl. Make the popcorn and leave it on the counter for your loved one to snack on throughout the day. (It may not be a good fit for those with dentures or partial plates as the tiny kernels tend to get stuck in and around the teeth.) You can also dress up popcorn with many different things, ranging from sprinkled cheese to dried fruit and nuts.
- Cottage cheese and fruit: There is nothing more traditional, and easier to digest in the summer months, than cottage cheese and cut up fruit. Cottage cheese is now available in lactose-free varieties and comes in different flavors ranging from pineapple to maple. Pair it cut up pieces of your loved one’s favorite fruit and you have a nice snack plate waiting for them in the refrigerator.
- Mini quesadilla: Small corn tortillas are fun to eat. Place low fat shredded or sliced cheese on one-half, fold it in half, and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Cut it into wedges and eat it with or without salsa on the side.
- Pretzel sticks: Depending on your loved one’s ability to chew, pretzel sticks in whole grain, pumpernickel and other flavors make a great snack. They can be dipped in applesauce, peanut butter, salsa and other condiments.
- Yogurt: Yogurt comes in individual cups in numerous flavors. If you don’t think your loved one will open the container, place the yogurt in a glass dish in the refrigerator where they can see it. Add chopped fruits or nuts to the top to make it appetizing.
- Grapes: Place grapes in a sealed baggie and put it in the refrigerator or on the counter. When they are taken off the vine and placed in a baggie or bowl they will seem easier – and ready – to eat.
- Sliced apple and peanut butter: Place a teaspoon of peanut butter on apple slices and place them on a plate. Sprinkle the apple lightly with lemon so it won’t turn brown during the day.
These are just a few ideas for snacks that are easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and packed with nutrients. As you begin to make these you will probably come up with even more ideas for snacks that you can easily leave for your loved one. Hopefully it will encourage them to eat well even as the temperatures rise.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.