I love great food. I love eating it, cooking it, reading about it and shopping for it. My life has centered on food. I chose the dining services profession to share the passion I have for food in hopes of it inspiring someone else to do the same.
You must keep an open mind. Just because a food is unhealthy doesn’t mean it can’t taste good. None of us were born with cravings for French fries and sweets or with an aversion to broccoli. This conditioning happens over time as we are exposed to unhealthy food choices. Fortunately, it is possible to reprogram your cravings over time.
Don’t change everything all at once. It’s all about your small choices every day. Add a salad to your normal dinner instead of fries. You also can choose to have smaller portions, skip the dessert (or have a smaller piece) and fill up with fresh fruit. You can liven up salads with beans, nuts or seeds, and you can also make tasty high-fiber additions to soup and stews by adding lentils, beans or peas. You can try natural flavor enhancers like olive oil, vinegar, garlic, onions, ginger and butter.
Here are some food suggestions that I believe can assist you in your journey toward healthier habits.
Fruit – Berries, melons, apples and bananas. Aim for 2-3 servings a day.
Veggies – Rich, dark, leafy greens, like spinach, kale and broccoli. Carrots and squash are great options as well. 2-3 servings daily.
Calcium rich foods – Milk, yogurt or cheese. Or non-dairy choices like tofu, broccoli, almonds and kale. 1,200 mg. throughout the day.
Grains – Whole grains provide more nutrients and fiber than white flour.
Healthy fats – Fats are dense in calories; a little can go a long way. You will feel full longer.
Proteins – Adults over 50 without diabetes or kidney disease should aim for 1.5 grams per 2 lbs. of body weight.
In my opinion, the key to healthy eating is to focus on whole, minimally processed foods. Our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors, so experiment with a diet and find one that works best for you.
This is why I enjoy being in my career – helping seniors in our assisted living community, The Bridge at Ooltewah, by providing three well-balanced, fresh, healthy meals each day. The beneficial outcomes I see in our residents when they change their eating habits are astounding and rewarding.