Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nutrition for Seniors

Having taught grade JK - 8, I researched and taught all aspects of curriculum including, language, math, music, the arts, physical education and health & nutrition. When I used Canada's Food Guide, I realized that good nutrition means different things depending upon your age and stage of life.

Having retired, albeit early, I have been faced with the issue of my increasing waistline. I am much more sedentary than when I was working. I work out 30 minutes per day, religiously! That said, hormones (or, more precisely the lack thereof!) means that my metabolism has changed and the same amount of food, the absence of a 9 - 5 workday, means that I require far fewer calories.

In addition, whilst caring for my ailing parents we ate out a lot. Portion control is not possible in this situation. Treats, when family members came to visit, or a reward for my having gotten through the day, wine with dinner, means that I packed on weight trying to ameliorate the stress of daily obligations. Add to that: I spent the last two years writing a book and some days, when I was on a roll (excuse the pun!) I would work through, grab leftovers, and sit on my rear end for 6 hours in a row. This is not healthy. Caregiver stress is a horrible issue that compounds itself, but I digress.

The benefits of good nutrition make such a difference.

One of the most important things to do is read labels. I scanned one: my husband brought home some prepared mashed potatoes. Great idea, he was trying to save some time, but if you look at the consequences of buying something with potential mystery ingredients, you risk your health.

Firstly, the Nutrition Facts are PER 1/6 tray, and not the entire contents of the food item.

Examine the Sodium content. If you only eat 1/6, which doesn't even look like a whole potato, you get 20% of your daily recommended dose of sodium.
It you look at the fat content, you will see that rather than controlling your fat content, through less saturated and more transfats, you likely are ingesting much butter, and 19% of your daily ration. How much better to simply mash the potatoes yourself and control portions. And 149 calories? In 1/6 the portion. A regular, baked potato has 128 calories. The more you fiddle with foods, the worse things that happen. Make sure you read labels!

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