Dining Practice Standards for Assisted Living Food Menus

  Assisted Living Menus

For assisted living food menus, therapeutic meal plans designed to improve senior health used to be the norm. However, research has revealed that few older adults – even those diagnosed with chronic medical conditions – actually benefit from restrictive diets.


Now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that long-term care providers follow more liberal dining practice standards that empower seniors to make their own food choices.

dining assisted living food menus


Giving Older Adults the Freedom of Food Choice


Therapeutic diets, including low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar meal plans, often lack appeal and favor. When seniors are limited to restrictive assisted living food menus, the pleasure of eating diminishes. Older adults who don’t enjoy their meals eat less, which often leads to weight loss and malnutrition.


In contrast, assisted living facilities that adhere to liberal dining standards find that residents are much happier at mealtime. Giving seniors the freedom to choose their own foods is associated with better appetite and increased food intake. For the majority of older adults residing in long-term care communities, the benefits of a liberalized assisted living food menus – based on food preferences rather than medical diagnosis – outweigh the risks.


Dealing with Risky Dining Decisions


In treating chronic medical conditions, health care professionals often advise patients to follow restrictive diets. Diabetics are told to limit their sugar and carbohydrate intake, for example, while people with heart disease should avoid saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and red meat.


Older adults don’t always make the wisest food choices – but, according to the latest dining practice standards, that’s ok. Long-term care providers need to inform seniors with chronic disorders about the benefits of sticking to a restrictive meal plan, but they shouldn’t veto risky dining decisions. Instead, assisted living food menus should honor resident mealtime preferences.


Making the Switch to Resident-Directed Dining


For long-term care communities, stepping away from restrictive diets and committing to resident-directed dining can be difficult.


Adopting liberal dining practice standards means providing a balanced diet and monitoring nutrient intake, while also allowing seniors greater freedom with their food choices – and assisted living facilities don’t always know how to balance these goals. Plus, though staff members discuss food preferences with residents, many long-term care communities don’t have the tools to implement a resident-directed dining plan.


Grove Menus offers a simple, cost-effective solution. Our innovative meal planning software system considers resident food preferences and medically-necessary dietary restrictions in developing menus for seniors residing at long-term care communities. As a result, the meals and snacks offered are both delicious and nutritious.


The Grove Menus system offers hundreds of easily-adaptable, dietitian-approved recipes along with a suite of user-friendly food service tools that save time, reduce waste and cut the costs of preparing and serving enjoyable meals and snacks. For more information, or to schedule a free, no-hassle demonstration of our assisted living food menu program, contact us today.





A Menu Planning Program Can Help Lower Cholesterol

  Assisted Living Menus

A menu planning program with heart-healthy options is essential for any senior care center. The body’s chemistry and metabolism change as we age, so many older adults need to work on lowering their cholesterol.

Eating the right foods can have a dramatic impact on cardiovascular health. As September is National Cholesterol Education Month, now’s the ideal time to share our best senior care center menu planning program tips for lowering cholesterol.

Menu Planning Program Cholesterol

Avoid Foods with Unhealthy Fats

Foods that contain trans-fat shouldn’t be included in a heart-healthy diet, as they raise the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol, while also lowering the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are nearly as unhealthy, so intake should be seriously limited – according to the American Heart Association, no more than 5 or 6 percent of the daily caloric intake should come from saturated fat.

Choose Foods with Healthy Fats

Not all fats are bad for cholesterol levels — consuming foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually help in lowering cholesterol. When menu planning, senior care centers should aim to select recipes that rely on healthy fats like plant-based liquid oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Serve Up Plenty of Produce

Fruits and vegetables are low in saturated fat and loaded with fiber, and both characteristics aid in lowering cholesterol. Every form counts, so senior care centers can create heart-healthy meals and snacks with fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits and veggies.

Go for Whole Grains

As we mentioned, high-fiber foods help reduce cholesterol levels. For that reason, whole grain foods are highly recommended for heart-healthy menu planning. Whenever possible, make whole grain breads, cereals, and starches a part of your senior care center meals and snacks.

Make Ingredient Substitutions

Older adults have favorite recipes, ones they’ve been making for years. If those recipes rely on ingredients that aren’t heart-healthy – like salt, butter and heavy cream — senior care centers need to recommend replacements. In addition, seniors who need help lowering their cholesterol should be encouraged to use herbs and spices to boost food flavor, rather than salt.

Could your senior care center benefit from a user-friendly, cost-effective menu planning program that includes heart-healthy options for lowering cholesterol? The Grove Menus software system is designed to make it easy to plan meals and snacks that meet the individual dietary needs of older adults.

Adopt the Grove Menus system, and you’ll have access to hundreds of delicious dietitian-approved recipes – all of which are easy to adjust for seniors with specific nutritional concerns. You’ll also have a suite of meal planning tools designed to reduce both food waste and food costs.

For more details about the Grove Menus software system, and for more of our menu planning program tips for lowering cholesterol, contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation and demonstration today.

Food Menu Program Tricks to Boost Appetite in Older Adults

  Assisted Living Menus | Menu Planning

Assisted living facilities need effective food menu program strategies to deal with the loss of appetite. The problem is common among older adults, a decreased desire to eat can lead to malnourishment – and dietary deficiencies can create serious health consequences.

Seniors struggle with mealtime for a number of reasons. Dental issues, medical disorders, depression, and changes in the sense of taste have all been linked to loss of appetite, and the issue can also be a side effect of a medication.

Overcoming appetite loss in older adults can be an ongoing challenge for assisted living facilities. We share six food menu program tricks that may help make mealtime more appealing to seniors, reducing their risk of malnourishment.

Food Menu Program Tricks to Boost Appetite in Older Adults

Experiment with Flavor

Spicing food menus up with stronger seasonings and exotic flavors can help boost appetite in seniors at assisted living facilities. Try serving dishes seasoned with garlic, turmeric, cumin, dill, red pepper or curry. For baked goods, consider adding flavor-boosters like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves

Serve Colorful Foods

Richly-colored foods tend to be higher in nutrients, and serving up meals and snacks with colorful produce can help reduce the risk of senior malnourishment. Fruits and veggies with vibrant colors look appealing on the plate, which can help encourage older adults to eat more.

Try Different Textures

For more interesting and visually appealing meals, consider texture when planning assisted living facility food menus. Dishes with combined textures – such as Greek yogurt with granola or flaky biscuits topped with creamed chicken – are often more appetizing to older adults.

Think About Presentation

How food is presented can make a difference in senior appetite. To make mealtime more appealing, use a bit of creativity in arranging the food on the plate. We all eat first with our eyes, so meals that look good are more likely to be eaten.

Keep Track of Senior Favorites

Keep a watch over what works – and what doesn’t work – to stimulate senior appetite at your assisted living facility. By tracking favorite foods, mealtime flops and what times of day older adults are more willing to eat, you’ll be able to serve up meals that stand a better chance of being consumed.

When assisted living facilities take steps to address the loss of appetite in seniors, malnourishment is less of a problem. For more food menu program strategies to make mealtime more appealing, turn to the Grove Menus software system.

The Grove Menus meal planning program — featuring hundreds of adjustable dietitian-approved recipes along with a suite of user-friendly food service tools — is a cost-effective solution for meeting the dietary needs of assisted living residents.

To learn more about the Grove Menus software system, or for a free, no-pressure demonstration of how our food menu program works, contact us today.

Assisted Living Food Menus & Memory-Boosting Superfoods

  Assisted Living Menus

When assisted living food menus incorporate memory-boosting superfoods, it helps improve residents’ brain health and protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Assisted Living Food Menus & Memory-Boosting Superfoods

Superfood compounds are available as nutritional supplements. However, older adults are better off consuming the whole foods than taking pills, as superfoods in their natural forms are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body.

As you plan your assisted living food menus, consider adding more of these nutritious – and delicious – memory-boosting superfoods.

Vegetables & Leafy Greens

Studies show that consuming leafy greens, like spinach and turnip greens, can have a proactive effect on brain health. Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies are also considered to be memory-friendly superfoods. But researchers say that increasing the intake of any vegetables can slow the rate of cognitive decline in older adults.

Cold-Water Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in salmon, halibut, tuna and other cold-water fish, may help protect against memory decline. More research is needed, but serving more of these fish varieties in your senior care center food menus could be beneficial. Beans, flax seeds, and some types of grains and nuts are other superfoods with high levels of omega-3.

Coffee, Chocolate and Spices

Daily caffeine intake has been linked to increasing memory capacity and may even help reverse some memory impairments – so, that makes antioxidant-rich coffee a perfect option for your food menus. The antioxidants and compounds in coffee may also work to improve cognitive function. Chocolate and spices like turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon have been shown to provide a similar brain health boost.

Berries & Dark-Skinned Fruits

Researchers have also discovered some evidence that fruits packed with antioxidants might help with cognitive function in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and conditions involving dementia. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and dark-skinned fruits like cherries and plums are excellent memory-boosting superfoods to use in assisted living recipe ideas for seniors.

Healthy Oils

Scientists have found that using healthy oils in meals for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease might offer a memory-boosting effect. Further research is necessary, but coconut oil and olive oil contain unique compounds that might help protect senior brain health.

Are you looking for an easier way to plan dietitian-approved assisted living food menus? The Grove Menus meal planning software system is a cost-effective solution for meeting the dietary needs of your senior residents through delicious, easy-to-make recipes.

The Grove Menus user-friendly suite of meal planning tools can help you with everything from incorporating memory-boosting superfoods and other nutritional powerhouse ingredients to tracking inventory, creating food prep lists and keeping your budget in check. For a complimentary, no-pressure demonstration of our software system for assisted living food menus and planning, contact us today.

Food Menu Programs Celebrate National Grapefruit Month

  Assisted Living Menus

Is your facility’s food menu program celebrating National Grapefruit Month? If not, this may be the perfect time to highlight this tasty citrus fruit in some of your recipes.

healthy food menu programs

Grapefruit comes in several juicy varieties, offering a range of sweet and tart flavors. Of course, the fruit isn’t just delicious – it’s also packed with nutrition.

The Many Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Loaded with vitamins and vital nutrients, grapefruit provides a wealth of health benefits for seniors.

Grapefruit is rich in vitamin A, which can help lower cholesterol, and vitamin C, which works to support the immune system. This fruit is also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders.

Grapefruit also has fiber plenty of dietary fiber, which offers gastrointestinal and heart-health benefits.

Adding Grapefruit to Your Food Menu Program

Traditional treatments include serving your residents grapefruit juice or whole fruit sections. However, these aren’t the only options for incorporating this sweet citrus into your food menu program.

Salads and salsas are fresh options for showcasing grapefruit. Substitute it for pineapple, peaches or tomatoes in your regular recipes for a refreshing change. You can also use grapefruit in place of lemon or orange as a glaze for chicken or pork, or as a finishing touch to liven up the flavor of broiled fish.

And, just like lemon or lime, this citrus can also be used to make custards, tarts, sorbets and pies. It also works well in cakes, cookies, muffins and other fresh baked goods.

Grapefruit Isn’t Always a Safe Food Menu Choice

As tasty, nutritious and versatile as grapefruit is, the fruit isn’t well-suited for everyone.

Fresh grapefruit and its juice can interfere with some prescription medications. This interaction can be dangerous, as it causes an increased amount of these drugs to be absorbed into the bloodstream. A chemical compound in the fruit blocks the enzymes that normally break down medications, which results in a greater level of the drug remaining in the body.

Consuming grapefruit several hours before or after taking medication may not result in any adverse effects. However, medical experts suggest that patients may be better served by avoiding the fruit entirely when taking certain drugs.

Common examples of drugs that interact poorly with grapefruit include some types of statins, blood pressure medications, anti-anxiety drugs, blood thinners, anti-arrhythmia drugs and antihistamines. For any residents who take medication, check with their physician to verify potential dietary restrictions.

Even if some of your facility’s residents must avoid grapefruit, special dietary issues don’t have to complicate your meal planning and preparation. The Grove Menus program provides dietitian-approved recipes and food menus that can easily be adjusted to meet the dietary restrictions of your residents. For a complimentary demonstration of our assisted living food menu program, contact us today.