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  • Writer's pictureThe Ideal Team

Healthy Snack Ideas for Seniors

Updated: Mar 6


Often, mealtime can be quite challenging for the elderly, especially those in long-term care or living alone in their private home. Some meals can be too "heavy", too "much", or perhaps their appetite is not as strong as it once was, so they often opt out of the meal altogether. That's why ensuring a simple healthy snack is available can make a difference in keeping your loved one, or person in your care, healthy and happy.


Changing Nutritional Needs


Nutritional changes occur as we age, often due to consuming fewer calories and not preparing meals we once did for ourselves or our families. However, how bodies demand all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals essential for our bone, heart, and brain health.


  • People's health and what they eat can be affected by chronic diseases as they age. As a result of what they've been told years ago about a particular disease, such as heart disease or diabetes, they're restricting their food intake so much that they're limiting their nutrients.

  • People with gum and teeth problems may make different food choices. When chewing becomes a problem, meat is usually the first to go. Chewing nutrient-dense foods can be tough for some people. Whether it's because of poor dentition, poorly fitting dentures, gum disease, mouth sores, dry mouth, or missing teeth, chewing can be a challenge.

  • Medications can increase nutritional needs or change your eating habits. Some medications can affect a person's appetite or increase their appetite so much that they make poor food choices out of convenience. A dry mouth can also be caused by some medications, making it uncomfortable to eat. Whole food groups, like leafy greens, can be cut out of some diets due to restrictions caused by certain medications.

  • Calcium, B vitamins, and protein are often under-consumed (or poorly absorbed) as people age.

  • As skin ages, it doesn't produce as much Vitamin D, which helps bones stay strong. Those concerned about lactose intolerance may also experience a weakening of bones that leads to fractures.

  • Due to gastric acid secretion and drugs like antacids and proton pump inhibitors (PPI), the ability to absorb specific nutrients like B12 is reduced.

  • Drinking too much alcohol prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly or causes people to eat less, putting them at risk for malnutrition.

  • When it comes to grocery shopping, finances can also change what your senior feels comfortable buying. Foods that are cheaper and less nutritious may become staples instead of fresh foods that are usually more expensive.

  • As seniors age, they're less able to shop, prepare, and even eat the meals they need for health. Fatigue can make it hard for them to cook for themselves. They may be less likely to make their own meals or eat alone if they're grieving or depressed.

  • Lack of interest in the meals served in the facility or delivered to your door. Many seniors don't like the food they're given or just want to choose or cook their own meals. When this is not the case, they often refuse to eat. It's common for seniors to want food they remember from their childhood, which may not be on the menu where they live. Some of them might even lose their sense of taste or smell, so meals may not be as satisfying.


Snack Ideas for Seniors


Here are some easy snack ideas to introduce into their daily menu, but please keep in mind any dietary restrictions and consult their physician for any allergies or medication conflicts.


  1. "Grab and Go" - snack items, such as sliced vegetables (carrots, sweet peppers, cucumbers, etc.), fresh, sliced fruits (grapes, banana, apple, etc.), hard-boiled eggs, and cubed cheese paired with hummus, guacamole, or whole grain crackers are easily prepped, bagged, and stored ahead of time for easy snacking.

  2. Yogurt - packed with protein and probiotics, this is a healthy snack choice. It's filling and can be paired with fruit, granola, or left on its own.

  3. Granola - this high-fibre snack option is a great choice for seniors because it promotes optimal bowel health and contains essential vitamins and minerals to further boost their digestive health while enhancing immunity.

  4. Cottage Cheese - often paired with canned peaches and light syrup, cottage cheese is a protein-rich option that is also soft and easy to eat.

  5. Ice Cream or Pudding - these options are always enjoyed! They are tasty, come in a variety of flavours, are convenient, and n the case of pudding - have a longer shelf life than most other snacks.


Recipe for Baked Cinnamon Apples


Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or apple of your choice)

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 tsp cornstarch

  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ degrees.

  2. Peel the apples, cut and remove the core and cut into slices about 1/3-1/2 an inch thick.

  3. Add the apples to a large bowl or you can mix right in a pie dish, or 2-quart baking dish. Add the light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. If using a bowl, spoon the apples into a pie dish or 2-quart baking dish.

  4. Cut the butter into small squares, and place them over the top of the apples.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after the apples have baked for 15 minutes. This prevents apples on the top from drying. Bake until the apples are tender and soft.

  6. Remove and serve on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Serve warm.



 

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