Think back on the last great meal that you had… What did you have to eat? Where did you eat your meal? Did you prepare it, or did someone else? Who joined you? That last question is important, because it’s tough to imagine eating a truly delicious meal, alone.
It seems like there’s more than one part of a meal that makes it a success. March is National Nutrition Month. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate what makes each meal special.
At Edgewood, we understand that senior living needs to feel like home, and that home-like feel starts around the table. Our dining philosophy is to make each meal a special event that offers residents a variety of appetizing choices. Meals should be something to look forward to, rather than just another part of the day. We serve meals on attractive place settings and our dining rooms are adorned with beautiful decor. We encourage socializing and eating together as a group of friends. Families are welcome to join residents for meals for a minimal fee as well.
Food is medicine that can provide both nutrition and comfort.
Many of us feel warm and fuzzy as we enjoy a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. The experience can bring us right back to Grandma’s cozy kitchen (I can see her hands pouring chocolate chips into the cookie dough). Comfort foods are great reminders of our loved ones, and we should enjoy both the cookie and the memory. We shouldn’t have to cut out cookies, but what we put into our bodies is what we’ll get out. If we eat nothing but cookies for every meal, we may be motivated only to sit on the couch – if we’re lucky enough to avoid restroom urgency! If we balance ourselves, and eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, maybe we’ll feel more like taking a short walk every day.
Having choice in what’s on your plate is the key to satisfaction.
There is a wealth of information available on healthy eating at all ages, but unfortunately, the advice we often hear is to totally avoid certain foods: “She can’t have sugar, she has diabetes!” “He can’t eat chips, he’s on the low salt diet!” But what happens when we hear “You can’t have that?” Doesn’t that make you want the forbidden food even more? Diet is all about balance. What we should eat is different for all of us, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat what doesn’t appeal to us.
Melanie Metz, RDN, Edgewood Healthcare’s Corporate Dining Services Director and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, explained how important it is not to be overly restrictive when it comes to diets. “At Edgewood, diets can be tailored to individuals based on their needs for calories, protein etc., but the focus is on diet of least restriction. We won’t say a resident can’t have something. Instead, we offer choice to empower residents to make health-appropriate food selections, and our staff will do what they can do to help residents get proper nutrition.”
Melanie has worked with Edgewood Healthcare for 15 years, but she “brings to the table” 34 years of experience as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Melanie has served on several large projects, such as former North Dakota Governor Hoeven’s Healthy North Dakota Initiative, and with the CDC on the Diabetes Control Project. Her vast experience has helped her and the dining directors across Edgewood’s communities create new and exciting menus that offer a variety of well-balanced options to the residents.
We often hear in the senior living world, “Well, my dad has lived through it all, he should eat whatever he wants!”
Some days we might all feel that way, but is that truly best? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” That’s one to follow us across life. Melanie’s advice on that for everyone (not just for seniors) is “If we’re not eating a well-balanced diet, we’re not going to feel well, and it can contribute to a bad day. As we age, our appetite declines, and we tend to eat less. We are apt to be taking medication(s) and we are apt to move around less. These factors can affect our ability to have a regular bowel movement. We’re obligated to offer a balanced diet to at least try to help people feel their best. The meals that are planned and offered are designed to help preserve and maintain quality of life.”
Gathering at the table with friends reduces isolation and may improve health.
Eating alone may adversely affect health. Seniors who dine alone may eat less, or eat a lot of processed, quick-ready meals which could compromise the nutrients they need. This can be due to the issue of cooking for one, having limited access to healthy foods, or perhaps your senior loved one no longer feels safe on their feet to prepare a healthy meal. (Or maybe they’re scared to cook for fear of leaving the burner on.) Dining with friends or joining a senior meal program is an easy way to eat well and keep an active social life.
Edgewood’s dining program takes the worry out of mealtime.
At Edgewood, we feel that meals should not only nourish your body, but they should also warm your heart. We take the difficulty out of mealtime by providing healthy options right at the table. Forget the worry of going out grocery shopping in the dead of winter, standing up for hours to cook meals, throwing out expired foods, and leaving the gas on.
If you’d like to complete a community tour to experience a meal or explore more of what Edgewood Healthcare has to offer, please visit our website at EdgewoodHealthcare.com, or please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.