Nutrition and the elderly. General advice

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Having a balanced diet and eating well influences good health, and can help prevent and avoid certain illnesses.

For a healthy diet, there needs to be a balance between all food groups to ensure a good intake of nutrients, so what you eat should be varied, tasty and in the right amount.

Food pyramid. This shows how food is divided up for a healthy diet. On the first four levels are the foods to be consumed on a daily basis. Portions are the amount of food a person eats, which varies depending on weight, height, sex, age and lifestyle. They need to be adapted for each meal, with the amount depending on whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Recommendations to help eat healthily:

  • A varied diet is much more appetising
  • Aim for meals to be at the same time, but try to respect when the person prefers to eat
  • Try to ensure meals are at a pleasant, relaxed time of day
  • Spread the diet over four or five meals a day
  • The lightest meal should be dinner
  • Eat with good posture, preferably sitting down, and if possible, have main meals served at the table and with other people
  • Cut the food up into small pieces
  • Serve foods that the person likes and that are easy to eat and chew, such as burgers and croquettes
  • Try to ensure food is boiled, roasted or cooked through to make it easier to chew and to remove excess fat
  • Reduce the amount of salt if recommended for the person’s health
  • Try to ensure meals are pleasing to the senses, with an attractive presentation. Eating while the food is still hot is much more appetising and enjoyable
  • If the person does not have much of an appetite, prepare meals with less quantity but high in nutrients. If the lack of appetite persists, consult with a professional in case food supplements need to be administered
  • Feed the person patiently, without rushing, and avoid distractions
  • Maintain or reinforce the person’s capacity to eat unaided. Help without being overprotective
  • If necessary, use special utensils to help, such as cups with two handles, adapted cutlery, sloping plates, unbreakable items, etc.
  • Avoid being repetitive and critical if he or she spills food or wants to stop eating, to prevent causing distress or creating tension
  • Mixing in the medication can change the taste of the food and alter the properties of the drug
  • If the person needs a nasogastric tube for feeding, the health team will advise you


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