Healthy Snacking for Seniors

  Fiber | Nutrition

Snack routines are often boring and repetitive. Instead of eating just an apple or resorting to less healthy (but more tasteful) option such as chips or cookies, here are some filling and satisfying ideas to keep your senior residents excited for snack time!

  1. Incorporate more fiber: Foods that contain fiber take longer to digest which can increase feelings of satiety for longer. Fruit, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber. Some snack ideas include vegetable trays, fruit salads, popcorn and other whole grain snacks.
  2. Add a protein dip: Adding additional protein to a snack is another way to ensure that you stay full for longer. When serving fruits, vegetables, crackers, etc., dips are a fun and easy way to add extra flavor. Try making different dips out of nut butters, hummus, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt to add some extra protein.
  3. Smoothie bar: Smoothies are a fun, summer-favorite. Try blending fruits, vegetables, liquid (juice or milk), yogurt, and add-ins (peanut butter, flax seed, chia seeds, etc.) to find a favorite combination.
  4. Mix-and­-match: To add some variety, try mixing and matching different snack options. Ideas could include yogurt and granola, peanut butter celery logs with raisins, trail mix popcorn (popcorn mixed with nuts, dried fruit, chocolate candies, etc.), apples and cheese, etc. Trying different combinations will keep snack time exciting.

How to Boost Fiber in Assisted Living Food Menus

  Fiber | Menu Planning

Dietary fiber is essential in assisted living food menus, as it has many nutritional health benefits. A high-fiber diet can help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. This nutrient also plays an important part in digest health and aids in weight loss and management.

high fiber menus

Would you like your nursing or residential care home residents to eat more fiber? An efficient meal planning program makes it easy to include plenty of this vital nutrient in your recipes.

Include High-Fiber Breakfasts In Assisted Living Food Menus

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and one that your residents look forward to. Assisted living residents will start the day with plenty of nutritional fuel when the meal provides a fiber boost.

Whole-grain, high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk is always a great choice, but offering a variety of breakfast options in your food menus will keep your residents happier and more eager to eat.

Consider toasted oatmeal waffles or whole grain French toast, for example. Or serve up homemade granola with yogurt. You can also include fiber-packed breads and muffins at breakfast as well as snack time.

Pack Assisted Living Meals with Fresh Fruit, Veggies and Legumes

A variety of fresh fruits, including apples, pears, berries, oranges, bananas and prunes, are packed with healthy fiber. Broccoli, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts and sweet corn are among the many veggies that provide a good source of this nutrient. And, legumes like peas, beans, nuts and lentils are also packed with fiber.

To increase the amount of dietary fiber in your assisted living meals, simply add more of these nutrient-rich ingredients to your food menus.

Fresh fruit is well-liked and easy to serve, so consider adding some to every meal. Slice some up as a side dish or as part of dessert, or blend up fiber-rich fruit smoothies for your residents to enjoy.

Incorporating more veggies and legumes in your menu program is also easy to do. Simply use more of these foods to bulk up salads, soups, stews and casseroles. Or, puree them for a delicious high-fiber dip.

Include High-Fiber Snacks in Your Assisted Living Food Menus

When the afternoon slump hits, your residents may want to reach for a salty or sweet snack. Instead of chips and cookies, try offering more nutritious food choices that deliver a fiber boost.

Whole grain crackers and popcorn are perfect fiber-rich snacks. For residents with a sweet tooth, consider trail mix, granola bars, apple crisps or peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread.

For cost-effective, dietician-approved recipes designed to boost your residents’ nutrition, consider the Grove Menus program. Our menu planning tool makes it easy to create healthy meals that are both delicious and cost-effective. Contact us today for a free, no-hassle demonstration of our system for automating your assisted living food menus.

Fiber and Glycemic Index

  Fiber | Glycemic Index

You’ve probably heard the term glycemic index but like many of us, you don’t know much about it. Glycemic Index  (GI) is a measurement of the effect that carbohydrates have on blood sugar GIlevels. Like golf, high is bad, low is good. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and rapidly release glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down slowly have a low GI.

Fiber and GI are buddies and are usually referenced together. One of the major players influencing the GI is the amount of fiber per serving. A good source of fiber per serving is 2.5 g; and excellent source is 5 g and will lower GI even more. The higher the fiber, the lower the GI. Nutrition labels will tell you amount of fiber so you can look for good and excellent sources.

Glycemic Index of Common Foods

  • Low GI — 55 or below: Beans; legumes; intact grains – wheat, oats, brown rice, barley; most vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, carrots; most sweet fruits with skin on  – pegraphaches, strawberries, apples.
  • Medium GI — 56-69: Not intact whole wheat or enriched wheat, pita bread, potatoes, grape juice, raisins
  • High GI — 70 and above: White bread, most white rice, corn flakes, glucose, pretzles

Now that you’ve learned about GI, let’s throw a wrench in the wheel. Here are GI limitations:

  • GI doesn’t take into account foods eaten – with other foods.
  • There is a wide GI variation in fruits and vegetables depending on the ripeness and variety (Toh-may-toe vs. toh-mah-toe has a whole new meaning!)
  • Different people may have a different GI response to the same food.
  • GI only measures food’s carbohydrate content. It would be easy to eat too much and fat and calorie just trying to avoid “the carbs”

Tired of reading yet? I am sure your blood sugar is just too low :). When your blood sugar dips down you feel tired and hungry. If it gets too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin which will drop your blood sugar level. It primarily does this by converting excess sugar to stored fat. The quicker your blood sugar rises, the more your pancreas works to pump insulin into your system. Think twice before your next soda pop: at first you may feel a burst of energy, but then comes the storage along with fatigue, irritability, and, alas, more hunger.

Some people will tell you to avoid all carbohydrates because of the “ups and downs” they cause, and focus on the GI instead, but as we learned, all carbohydrates are not bad and avoiding all “carbs” will lead to a variety of health problems. The solution is to aim for a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and unrefined grains and don’t forget to check that label for some “excellent” fiber!

Fabulous Fiber

  Fiber

…helps us in so many ways – its numerous health benefits are proven and well documented.  Fiber is only found in planFabt products,  so if a food comes from an animal, it does not have fiber. That means if you are consuming most of your calories from meat, chicken, fish, cheese, milk, bacon, and fats in all their varieties, you are not getting any fiber.

Fiber is the part of food that your body cannot absorb, it passes through the body intact. There are 2 kinds  –  soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble.

Soluble fiber holds water and forms gels, which slows the rate food leaves the stomach.  This is good, because while eating less, you will still feel satisfied. This delay also slows  sugars entering the blood stream, thus lowering the glycemic effect.  Forming gel also binds cholesterol and “escorts” it out of the body. Foods that contain high amounts of soluble fiber include oats, barley, legumes (beans and peas), apples, carrots, and citrus fruits.

Insoluble fiber promotes movement (think of your intestines, not the dance floor), which speeds food through theToilet gut. Once nutrients are absorbed, what remains is “toxic” waste and needs to move through the intestines. Insoluble fiber acts like a Roto Rooter, clearing waste out so it doesn’t sit in the gut too long.  The best source of insoluble fiber is found in the bran layer of cereals and grains.

What happens if you don’t get enough fiber?   Well, you may be familiar with some of these modern health concerns: overweight, diabetes, higher blood cholesterol levels, increased problems with constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticular (small pouches in intestines) diseases.

You need 25-30 grams of fiber a day, which really is quite a bit.  Here are some tips to increase fiber in your diet:

* Eat more whole grains – at least HALF of all breads, grains, cereals you consume should be whole grain. Foods such as bran, cereals, ofaceatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Substitute whole grain flour for half or more of white flour.

* Fill up on fruit – eat a fruit at every meal, remember the more unprocessed, the better

* Take in more legumes, at least 3 times a week. Your body will adjust to the side effect of gas, it will go away in a couple of weeks, meanwhile, stock up on Bean-o.

* Enjoy many more vegetables – add them to soups, sauces and snacks.

* Make your snacks count – try vegetable sticks, whole fruits, and whole grain products