For people of all ages, food is one of the biggest cornerstones of good health. Unfortunately, for older adults, eating well can be a pretty significant challenge. Many elderly adults have unique dietary needs, which can change and develop over time based on their lifestyle and their overall health. Some older adults have difficulty with chewing, swallowing, or serving themselves, which can make breakfast, lunch, and dinner feel more like chores than welcome events. As a result, many older adults and family caregivers turn to snacks as a way to help seniors get the nutrition and energy they need to live a more full and complete life.
Healthy and Easy Snack Ideas for the Elderly
Snacks can be a great way to ward off malnutrition, and make eating feel fun and easy — especially for older adults who may have less of an appetite than they did in their younger years. Best of all, most snacks are quick and easy, and many can be prepared in advance, so you don’t need to break out the pots and pans every time you want to give your elderly loved one something nourishing and filling.
Looking for a little snack time inspiration? Here are five healthy snack ideas for the elderly that are also quick, easy, and affordable:
1.) Boost Protein Intake With Eggs, Tuna, Chickpeas, or Lunch Meat
Protein provides fuel that can help older adults stay active — and many seniors simply do not get enough. The Silver Sneakers program recommends looking for snacks that are high in protein — think at least 10 to 15 grams per serving — as these will “keep your stomach content and your muscles fueled between meals.”
Here are a few healthy and quick options that pack a punch of protein:
- Hard-boiled eggs. These can be prepared in batches, and then kept fresh until you’re ready for a snack.
- Ready-to-eat tuna in a can or pouch.
- Deli turkey. This can be eaten in a handy wrap with vegetables, or served with crackers and cheese.
- Edamame. Quick and easy to steam, edamame offers an enormous amount of protein per serving.
- Crunchy whole-roasted chickpeas or smooth hummus. Serve hummus with whole wheat crackers or veggie sticks for dipping.
2.) Get Plenty of Calcium With Yogurt and Cheese
Many older adults do not get enough calcium — which can be detrimental over time, since calcium helps strengthen your bones and muscles and promote a healthy, functioning heart.
Calcium-rich snacks can be a great way to introduce this important nutrient back into an elderly adult’s diet. Look for quick and easy snacks such as:
- Cheese cubes or string cheese. String cheese features lots of protein and calcium; plus, it’s fun for people of all ages to peel and eat!
- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt offers lots of calcium per serving, along with probiotics that can help aid with digestion.
- Sardines and canned salmon. These protein-packed fish can easily be served on crackers or whole wheat toast.
- Almonds and almond milk. A handful of nuts or a glass of almond milk can offer a great amount of calcium, with none of the dairy — which can be hard for some older adults to digest.
3.) Get More Vitamins and Nutrients With Fruits and Vegetables
There’s a good reason why “eat your vegetables” is a common refrain at dinner tables here in Chicago and around the country. Different fruits and vegetables can be wonderful sources of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients — from citrus fruits loaded with vitamin C, to iron-rich leafy greens, to potassium-packed bananas. Here are a few ways to make fruits and veggies more snackable:
- Make a fruit salad. Mix berries, apples, bananas, and all your other favorites together with a light dressing.
- Blend up a smoothie. Frozen vegetables and fruits can be pureed together with non-dairy milk, protein powder, or nut butter to form a delicious drink that’s good for your overall health.
- Eat dried fruit. Dried pineapples and orange slices can be a great way to get all of the nutrients, with less of the sticky, messy juice.
- Bake your own fruit “chips.” Apples and bananas can be baked into crisp, easy-to-store chips.
- Serve veggie sticks and dip. Dip carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumber slices, radishes, and other crisp raw veggies into healthy homemade dressings or hummus.
4.) Hit the Road With Trail Mix, Granola, Nuts, and Seeds
Whether you’re setting out on a long road trip or simply looking to fuel up between errands, many older adults need to have access to snacks “on the go.” For a quick and easy snack older adults can enjoy anywhere, consider filling a baggie with:
- Healthy nuts. Many nuts are rich in protein and other important nutrients. Consider stocking up on pistachios, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, or cashews. Use nut butter spreads on whole wheat crackers or celery sticks.
- Seeds. Sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and plenty of other varieties are all a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and minerals.
- Homemade granola bars. While store bought will do in a pinch, you can cut down on sugar and cater to your loved one’s tastes by making your own healthy granola at home.
- Trail mix. Make a healthy version of trail mix by combining all of your loved one’s crispy, crunch favorites together. Some common fillers are fortified breakfast cereal, roasted nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate.
5.) Swap Out Processed and Store Bought for Healthy and Homemade: Chips, Popsicles, Sweets
Processed foods often contain additives that can do more harm than good, including excessive amounts of salt and sugar. Fortunately, there are lots of creative ways to make healthy swaps, while still making sure your senior loved one enjoys their classic snack time favorites:
- Veggie chips. You can easily swap out processed chips for homemade baked versions made from healthy staples like sweet potato and kale.
- Fresh fruit popsicles. Instead of relying on sugary and artificial store bought pops, make your own natural versions with real fruit juice.
- Popcorn. Instead of buttery, salty microwave popcorn, pop your own on the stovetop and serve it fresh.
- Healthy baked goods. When you bake up cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats at home, you get to control what goes in. Chocolate muffins and cakes can secretly be filled with veggies, or made using a lot less sugar and flour than you might find in store bought varieties.
Looking for Help? Trust Chicago’s Resource for All Things Senior Care
Interested in getting your eldelry loved one the support they need to live a more enriched and independent life? We are here and ready to help.
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help the elderly maintain their independence while providing a higher quality of life from the comfort and safety of home. To do this, we make food and mealtimes a cornerstone of the care we provide. A companion can help your senior loved one in many different ways — from sharing meals, to assisting with grocery shopping, to providing reliable snack and meal preparation services.
Our companions don’t look at cooking, shopping, and eating with our clients as a chore, but a privilege. We recognize that making grocery lists, planning menus, and sharing food all present an amazing chance to connect with the elderly, and help truly enrich their lives. When our caregivers cook and share meals with their clients, they talk about their days, share stories, and, most importantly, forge a lasting bond. We often hear that these shared meals become highlights for not only our clients, but for our caregivers as well.
Our professionally trained and bonded companions offer flexible hours and personalized care plans, designed to help meet the needs of each of our senior clients and their families. If you have a loved one that could use assistance during the day, we’d love to help out. We are proudly locally owned in Chicago, with clients in the city and suburbs.
Want to learn more? Don’t hesitate to reach out through our convenient online portal, or call us at (866) 910-9020 today!