Do you ever struggle to maintain a healthy diet? Who doesn’t? Some days, reaching for a burger and fries or a couple slices of pizza may sound far more appealing than loading up on fruits, veggies and healthy whole grains. In fact, an ice cream cone sounds really appealing right about now as temperatures continue to climb!
Splurging every now and then on treats is part of what makes life enjoyable, and indulging an occasional craving usually isn’t a problem, as long as you practice moderation and stay aware of any personal dietary restrictions you may have.
But if you’re finding that your daily meals often consist of foods high in sugar, saturated fat and artificial ingredients, it may be time to re-evaluate your dietary habits, especially as good nutrition can help you decrease your risk for memory loss, maintain your strength and feel better as you age. Choosing a fruit salad over that double fudge brownie sundae might be a small price to pay for benefits like those, don’t you think?
As you grow older, your dietary choices will likely evolve. For one thing, you may notice changes in your appetite and how you feel about food. Additionally, certain medical conditions–such as high blood pressure or diabetes–may prompt a change in your diet, and side effects of medication can also play a role. These changes can make it even more difficult to keep up a healthy diet than it was when you were younger, because healthy recipes and dietary routines that used to suit you may no longer fit with your your lifestyle or appetite.
That’s where a dietitian can step in. Dietitians, especially those who specialize in working with older adults, can help you understand how to meet your changing nutritional needs as you age, whatever your specific concerns and preferences may be. And don’t worry–working with a dietitian doesn’t mean you’ll have to commit to eating exclusively salad and carrot sticks for the rest of your life. A good dietitian will help you find ways to both continue to get enjoyment from your diet and maintain healthy eating habits.
What do dietitians do?
A dietitian is similar to a nutritionist, but their role differs in that they must have received a degree and license in nutrition and dietetics, and have training in hospital and community settings. That makes them well-suited to work with older adults, many of whom have unique dietary considerations due to the health issues that pop up in the natural course of the aging process.
Dietitians work with people to determine exactly what they should increase and limit in their diets to improve their overall health, lower their risks for particular diseases and health conditions and generally feel their best. They are experts on how particular diagnoses should impact people’s diets, and at helping people put those dietary changes into action. To put it simply, they take all the guesswork out of how you should eat to maintain optimal health.
How dietitians can help older adults
In assisted living communities, dietitians often serve as consultants to make sure meal offerings are up to par with regulations and meet the desires, tastes and preferences of residents. They often participate in dietary monitoring and interventions as well.
Dietitians can also be a valuable resource for older adults who are living at home. They can create customized meal plans that meet your budget and food preferences or help with a range of medical nutrition therapies (MNT), nutrition plans used to treat specific medical conditions. Dietitians administer medical nutrition therapies to help manage existing health problems or prevent new ones, such as Type 2 diabetes, from emerging.
When led by a registered dietitian, medical nutrition therapies can help you maintain and improve your health by lowering your cholesterol or body weight, improving your glucose levels or controlling your blood pressure. In some cases, medical nutrition therapies can even lead to your ability to scale back on the use of medications prescribed for conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
And on a much more basic level, dietitians are simply a trusted resource you can turn to for no-nonsense advice on how you should eat to achieve your goals and feel your best. With new diet trends popping up almost daily, figuring out how to stay healthy has become increasingly confusing for people of all ages. But smart dietitians can help you cut through the clutter and confusion created by dietary trends like the Paleo diet, the green smoothie movement and souping (the “new juicing”) to build a fad-free healthy eating plan that really works for you.
Learn more at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services
If you’re interested in reaching out to a dietitian to assist you with health-related nutritional needs, or want to learn more about what a they’re capable of, attend Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services’ event on dietitians in in the home on Tuesday, August 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Covenant Home of Chicago. With a presentation by Dietitians at Home, one of the area’s only Medicare-approved providers of in-home dietary services, you will learn about topics such as how a dietitian assesses a person’s need for dietary care, how medical nutrition therapies can be delivered at home, how dietitians track outcomes and whether it’s really possible to stay healthy even when indulging in that ice cream and pizza craving every now and then!
RSVP by calling (773) 596-2296 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.