March is National Nutrition Month, and there are few things more important to our health than eating right. That’s why this month, Home Helpers will post a weekly blog exploring nutrition, what seniors should be eating to feel better, and easy things they can do to make healthy changes.
As children, our parents made sure we kept treats to a minimum. But as we age, we too often turn to sugary snacks and salty treats that Mom would not have approved of.
Perhaps because taste buds don’t work as well, or because medications interfere with the flavors of food, some seniors turn to salt and sugar to make their diets more palatable. Others eat too much salt and sugar without even knowing it. That’s because convenient foods like frozen meals and breakfast cereal are loaded with these ingredients.
Keeping sugar and salt in check is important, because an abundance of sugar causes weight gain and diabetes. Too much salt causes bloating and high blood pressure.
So what is an older adult to do?
Here are a few simple changes you can make cutting sugar and salt from your diet easier than you expected.
Put away the shaker
Use herbs and spices instead of salt and sugar to flavor foods. Onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juices and vinegars are healthy ways to up your flavor game without adding calories, sugar or sodium.
Add a twist
Drink water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary drinks like soda or lemonade. Try adding lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices to add flavor to water without sugar or calories.
Step away from the freezer
Avoid packaged and frozen entrees, which often are loaded with salt, fat and even added sugar.
Beware the low-fat promise
Low-fat foods such as salad dressings often add sugar for flavor. Opt instead for oil and vinegar, or a simple homemade vinaigrette.
Cut the ketchup
Beware of condiments and garnishes. Soy sauce, ketchup, jarred salsas, capers, mustard, pickles, olives and relish can be packed with sodium. Look for a reduced or lower-sodium version, or cut them out altogether.
The potassium punch
Foods that are high in potassium, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and bananas, help the body to counter the effects of sodium and may help to lower blood pressure. Plus, these foods have other ingredients, including fiber, that are important to overall good health.
Make sweets a treat
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional sweet treat. But when sitting down to enjoy a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake, keep portion control in mind. Keep servings small and eat slowly to savor every delicious bite