By Greg Pascucci
March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the campaign serves as a reminder to all of us to make informed food choices and develop healthy eating and physical activity habits.
For older adults, good nutrition is especially important. As we age, our bodies process food differently. This, in turn, can affect our dietary needs, appetite and even how food tastes. Although there may be a natural decline in one’s appetite during aging, maintaining a well-balanced diet is key to overall health and wellness.
Healthy eating has been proven to reduce the effects of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal ailments and chronic malnutrition.
Here are a few tips on how you can “personalize your plate”:
Enhance Dishes with Herbs and Spices
According to the National Institute of Health, seniors may experience a decline in taste or smell, causing them to begin adding too much sugar or salt to food to improve the flavor. This in turn can impact their health long term.
Experts recommend first seeking the advice of a doctor to be sure the decline is not connected to an underlying issue such as an upper respiratory infection. Then, consider using herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of food without adding extra calories or sodium.
At The Carlisle Naples, an active retirement community, Executive Chef Marlon Perez uses a variety of fresh herbs and spices to naturally kick up the intensity of foods. He says, basil for example, is perfect for enhancing Italian dishes, particularly those with tomato-based sauces, while tarragon is ideal for chicken and shellfish.
Eating the same foods over a prolonged period can become routine, causing us to indulge in unhealthy food choices. To avoid the monotony, try incorporating fruits and vegetables you would typically skip over at the grocery store. Spring offers the perfect time to taste test antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting food options such as pomegranates, quinoa, kefir and lentils.
Cooking magazines, international grocers and even the internet can help guide your search to discover new healthy foods.
To please the palate and keep residents’ appetite sharp, The Carlisle offers a rotating menu, incorporating everything from traditional comfort foods to delicious, yet nutritious FreshZest options, highlighting a plant-based diet.
“Our menus are well-balanced, enabling residents to ‘personalize their plates’ based on their preferences and lifestyle,” said Chef Perez, whose background includes serving as the Banquet Chef at the prestigious Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. “Whether eggplant caponata with polenta, the community’s signature cornucopia salad which includes mixed greens, avocado, and grilled chicken or roasted beef tenderloin with au jus sauce, residents can expect dining options that rival the five-star restaurants for which Naples is known.”
Grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after a meal may deter older adults from maintaining a well-balanced diet. Also, having to scale down recipes to make a meal for one or two people may be too daunting, and so a more convenient—often less healthy—dinner alternative is selected.
To overcome this challenge, it is suggested that when possible, prepare larger meals and freeze the leftovers. This offers a convenient solution for those looking for nutritious options without having to cook each day. Dieticians advise against store-bought frozen dinners, which are often highly processed and high in sodium, fat and sugar. A meal delivery service is also a great alternative.
The Carlisle’s maintenance-free lifestyle means residents no longer have to worry about cooking. While Chef Perez and his talented team have made adjustments to the dining program to adhere to social distancing guidelines and safety precautions—they have reimagined The Carlisle’s dining experience to include offering residents freshly made, mouth-watering menu choices brought to their door with a smile.
“Though there is no one-size-fits-all guide for proper nutrition and health, we can begin making small changes such as opting for brown rice or replacing 1-2 servings of animal-based protein with legumes or nuts,” explained Chef Perez. “Research shows even moderate changes in our diet can have a lasting impact on overall health.”
Located at 6945 Carlisle Court in Naples, The Carlisle offers independent and assisted living lifestyles featuring spacious one-and two-bedroom residences, weekly housekeeping and flat linen services, basic cable TV, all utilities except telephone, and delicious dining with daily, chef-prepared specials. The community is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), an important distinction that provides residents with the assurance that the highest standards of quality care, services and safeguards are maintained. For more information about the community, please call 239-221-0017 or visit www.TheCarlisleNaples.com.
Luxury Rental Retirement Living
6945 Carlisle Court, Naples, FL 34109
239-221-0017 . www.srgseniorliving.com