As a young adult, you may have frequented restaurants, eaten convenience foods and made trips to the grocery store on a moment's notice. If eyesight, health, budget or inability to drive have slowed down your culinary pursuits, you may wish to prepare a weekly menu and food schedule to meet your nutritional needs.
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Special Nutritional Needs of the Elderly
Nutritional needs don't significantly change as an individual ages, but you should reduce your sodium, saturated fat and caloric intake slightly while ensuring that you get adequate calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and fiber. Aging brings on an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, falls and chronic illness; and tweaking your diet can reduce the odds of developing these problems. Metabolism slows, making it necessary to reduce the number of calories you consume each day to avoid becoming overweight.
Creating a Menu
Creating a weekly menu frees you from wondering what to fix each day and helps ensure you get proper nutrition. Begin by planning your breakfast for seven days. Healthy food choices include oatmeal, yogurt, whole-grain toast, eggs, oranges, bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Plan seven lunches next, considering such foods as vegetable soup, grilled chicken sandwiches, salad, baked potatoes and beans. Follow this with a week's worth of dinners, including such items as whole-grain muffins, salmon, tuna salad, turkey breast, lentils, green beans, corn, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and peppers. Next, plan two snacks per day, choosing milk products such as low-fat cottage cheese; fruits such as peaches, watermelon and apples; nuts; and whole grains such as cereal. Finally, plan plenty of beverage choices, such as skim milk, prune juice, flavored water, green tea and hot chocolate.
Adopting a Weekly Food Schedule
It is easy to adopt a food schedule from a weekly menu. Simply note any items you need to purchase and determine the quantity needed. A sample weekly food schedule might include a gallon of skim milk, a container of cottage cheese, a head of lettuce, 4 tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, frozen broccoli, 2 cans of beans, 3 cans of vegetable soup, 1 frozen salmon fillet, a pack of grilled chicken breasts, 2 potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 3 peaches, a package of frozen Brussels sprouts, green tea bags, a quart of prune juice, a bag of walnuts and a small container of olive oil. Keep this same schedule until you become tired of these foods and wish to alter your menu.
To tweak your menu and weekly food schedule, determine how the current menu is working. If you throw out produce at the end of the week or you find yourself hungry, you need to change the quantity of the food you are purchasing. You can also go by your weight and energy level. If your weight stays stable and you have sufficient energy to perform your daily tasks, you are probably eating the right amount of food. In this case, you will simply want to make changes for variety and to get different nutrients. Buy fresh seasonal produce when possible and purchase holiday or celebratory foods that interest you. With a little effort and organization, you can eat healthfully as you age.