We expect that our diet and appetite will change as we age, and to a certain point eating less as you get older is normal. Mobility issues may cause older people to reduce the amount of physical activity they do, and their metabolism may slow down which results in less calories being needed to consume. Despite this, it is still important to eat regularly.
Eating a balanced, varied diet which allows you to get the right amount of nutrients everyday helps us keep healthy, fight off sickness, keep energy levels up, keeps our minds working, affects our mood and many other important things. Regular meals also help punctuate the day, especially if you are living alone, or are unable to get out of the house often.
There are many reasons why older people’s appetite decrease; cooking for one, ill fitting dentures, difficulty shopping, finances, and some medications are all factors that could leave them without much of an appetite. However, usually losing your appetite is a symptom of something else. If you are worried about yourself, or your loved one not eating, losing weight and not drinking enough, talk to your GP immediately.
Tips for eating regularly
If you are finding that you are having trouble eating regularly, here are a few things that you could try:
- Eating meals at a similar time each day to build a routine
- Make lunch the main meal of the day. Having more calories earlier in the day helps keep up energy, as well as this, eating your main meal at lunch will not upset any digestive issues you may have that would normally disrupt sleep.
- Eat small meals more often. You do not have to stick to the “three meals a day” saying, eating 5-6 smaller meals a day is a good way to keep up calorie intake for those who have lost their appetites. Frequent small meals are also helpful for those with digestion, congestion or breathing problems where it is painful to eat large meals. Frequent meals offer more opportunities to socialist and be with others.
- Include small high energy snacks in your diet. So while you may not feel like you are eating a lot, they will be able to help you keep up your energy throughout the day.
- Avoiding drinking with meals as this can fill you up and affect your appetite
- choosing moist or softer foods when you’re feeling tired means you don’t have to use as much effort to chew and swallow
- If you live alone and do not feel like cooking yourself, try some of the ready meals that are available in the fridge and freezer sections at the supermarket and delicatessens. Many companies also offer meal delivery services find some here on Eldernet.
- Making meals more appealing. Sense of taste get weaker with age, with some medications making it worse. You can add a boost of flavor with lemon juice, vinegar, herbs and spices. Using brightly coloured food will make meals more appealing as will a variety of tastes and textures.
- Getting physical is also a great way to encourage appetite. A walk or even washing dishes may help develop an appetite.