Caregiver's Handbook--Part 5 of 9

Nutrition

Nutrition

Nutrients On Food Labels and Their Function
Adapting Meals for People With Dietary Restrictions
The Four Basic Food Groups
Common Problems Interfering With Good Nutrition
General Tips for Helping the Older Person to Eat Well


NUTRITION

Good nutrition is important in order that people live life to its fullest. Good nutrition is a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the foods we eat. A healthy diet helps to (1) provide energy; (2) build, repair, and maintain body tissues and (s) regulate body processes.

When meals are eaten in the company of others, people not only benefit from the nutritious foods, but also enjoy the chance to socialize. This encourages good eating habits and promotes good mental health.

The table that follows summarizes essential nutrients (which you may also finds listed on food labels) and their functions:

Nutrients On Food Labels and Their Function

To simplify daily meal planning, foods are grouped according to the nutrients they supply. Plan your diet to include the recommended number of servings from each group.

Adapting Meals for People with Dietary Restrictions

If an individual is on a special diet (low salt, diabetic or low saturated fat), the Basic Four Food Groups Guide (which follows) can still be used.

However, because diets are prescribed to control a specific medical condition, certain foods may have to be eliminated, modified in the preparation, or limited in their intake. It is important that caregivers obtain specific instructions from a registered dietitian or their doctor on which foods are allowed, how much, and how they should be prepared.

Since some foods or medications may interact with other medications and/or foods in a harmful way, check with the pharmacist as to restrictions in any medications' use before it is applied.

The Four Basic Food Groups

Meat Group: Provides protein, niacin, iron, and Thiamin-B1. 2 servings daily. Dry beans and peas, soy extenders, and nuts combined with animal or grain protein can be substituted for a serving of meat. 2 ounces of cooked, lean meat, fish or poultry have the same amount of poultry as: 2 eggs; 1 cup cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils; 4 tablespoons peanut butter; ½ cup cottage cheese.

Grain Group: Provides carbohydrates, Thiamin-B1, iron, and niacin. 4 servings daily. Whole grain, fortified, or enriched grain products are recommended. 1 adult serving is: 1 slice bread; 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal; ½ cup cooked cereal, pasta, cornmeal, rice or grits; 1 small muffin or biscuit, 5 saltines, 2 graham crackers.

Milk Group: Provides calcium, riboflavin-B2, and protein. 2 servings daily: Foods made from milk contribute part of the nutrients supplied by a serving of milk. 1 cup milk has the same amount of calcium as 1 cup yogurt, 1 and ½ slices (ounces) cheddar-type cheese, 1 and ¾ cups ice cream, 2 cups cottage cheese.

Fruit-Vegetable Group: Provides vitamins A and C.

4 servings daily: Dark green leafy or orange vegetable and fruit are recommended 3 or 4 times weekly for vitamin A. Citrus fruit is recommended daily for vitamin C. 1 adult serving is: 1 cup raw fruit or vegetable, ½ cup cooked fruit or vegetable, 1 medium fruit, such as an apple or banana, ½ cup juice.

Common Problems Interfering with Good Nutrition

Illness, disability and depression can affect an older person's desire and ability to eat properly. The following suggestions deal with common problems that interfere with good nutrition.

When the carereceiver say the food tastes strange, it might help to: -- Check teeth for tooth decay or gum infection,

CRAMPS, HEARTBURN, BLOATING

CONSTIPATION

DIARRHEA

NAUSEA & VOMITING

DRY OR SORE MOUTH

General Tips for Helping the Older Person to Eat Well

Plan meals and snacks to include the person's favorite foods. -- Use a variety of foods from each of the four food groups, -- Prepare foods that provide a variety of texture, color, and temperature, -- Provide a pleasant setting, i.e., flowers, place mats, matching dishes, good lighting.

In addition to books, recipes and literature, the organizations listed below are valuable in providing tips, ideas, counseling, and reminders that you are not alone. They can help make the gradual transition to improved eating habits: (Addresses listed were local San Diego. For same or counterparts in your locality check your telephone directories or contact United Way:

American Heart Association; American Diabetes Association; American Cancer Society; Arthritis Foundation; Dietetic Association; United Ostomy Associates.

End of part 5


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