As a health professional, ensuring that your patients are eating well and including essential vitamins and nutrients in their regular diets is crucial to helping them maintain their overall health. Here are four simple steps you can recommend to your patients to assist them with improving their nutrition.
1. Establish a meal plan
While making a meal plan may not work for everyone, some of your patients may benefit from preparing a weekly schedule of foods they'll eat every day. This extra effort and planning will enable them to make healthier decisions. It will also be easier to see how much junk food they're consuming if their weekly meals are written out in front of them.
Recommend that they replace a few of their planned snacks with more nutritious alternatives. For example, if they have chips or popcorn listed multiple times throughout the week, suggest they swap out the unhealthy snack with a low-fat or low-sodium option to start, and then a piece of fruit as they get more comfortable with making these changes.
2. Get creative with healthy alternatives
It's not always easy for people to include more vegetables in their diets, especially if they don't like them. An easy way to work a daily serving of vegetables into meals is by using them as bowls for food. According to Active magazine, there's a long list of veggies people can stuff, such as bell peppers, squashes, leafy greens and eggplants. For example, instead of having tacos once a week, suggest that your patients replace the taco shells with cabbage or kale, which will make a tasty dish when filled with chicken, cheese and other tasty ingredients.
Remind your patients that there are always nutritious options, even when it comes to preparing meals for guests. One Green Planet suggested switching out the usual guacamole or salsa appetizer with spinach and artichoke dip. They can even fill an artichoke with the dip so that the veggie can be eaten as finger food.
3. Reduce daily sugar and salt intake
It takes a lot of awareness to choose foods that are low in both sodium and sugar, as most products are packed with them. However, these ingredients can cause lasting damage to health factors like heart health, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Educate patients on the recommended daily sugar and salt intake. Active explained that people shouldn't be eating more than 1,500 milligrams of salt each day.
Similarly, Authority Nutrition mentioned that women should eat no more than 25 grams of sugar on a daily basis and men should limit their consumption to about 37 grams. Suggest checking the ingredients labels before purchasing food at the grocery store and switching out sugar found in junk food with natural sugar in fruit. Dates, for example, offer the same sweet taste a foods high in sugar, but they're rich in potassium and won't cause blood sugar spikes.
4. Stalk up on anti-inflammatory foods
Omega-3 fatty acids can have a number of health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, enhancing brain function and even reducing joint pain. Your patients can introduce salmon and other oily fish to their diets, as these are known for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like walnuts and tofu contain a lot as well. Combining these products with fruits, vegetables and whole grains will ensure your patients are sticking to a healthy diet.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living