The Mediterranean Diet helps seniors enjoy increased mental acuteness and higher energy levels, plus it aids in resisting disease and improves the immune system. It also provides a way to lose weight and prevent weight gain when paired with a routine of weight-bearing exercise, such as walking. Here are a few tips to help seniors who are cooking for one or two ﬁnd the best foods for good health:
- Shop for ﬁber-rich foods, which are especially important in helping seniors maintain digestive regularity. Instead of supplements and pills, the Mediterranean Diet recommends plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and peanuts, which are great sources of ﬁber. Plus, these foods contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes to aid digestion.
- Buy ﬁsh. Shop at stores that sell fresh ﬁsh and can cut small pieces to feed one or two people. The Mediterranean Diet recommends eating ﬁsh twice a week, especially fatty ﬁsh like salmon which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Reach for products that naturally contain calcium, which can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Mediterranean ingredients such as beans, dairy products, and spinach head the list. Greek yogurt is an excellent choice since it’s rich in calcium and vitamin D and contains twice the protein of regular yogurt.
- Think of meat as a condiment or side dish, rather than the main event at a meal. Mediterranean fruits, vegetables and whole grains packed with unique ﬂavors and textures can easily serve as a satisfying main feature. Add only small amounts of lean meats such as beef round, loin, or sirloin. Open the package as soon as you get home and cut it up into small serving amounts. Make your meat purchases go the distance by individually wrapping and freezing portions for later in the week.
- It is easy to meet the Mediterranean Diet’s quota of daily fruits and vegetables by shopping in the store’s deli section and salad bar where you can purchase small amounts of raw and cooked vegetables, salads, and olives. That way, you can take what you need and do not have to worry about spoilage.
- Lots of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables can be found in the frozen food isle. Buy them in bags, which makes it easy to take out small amounts at a time and reseal. Add them to soups and stews, or toss with pasta or rice.
- Your weather may not always be as pleasant as it is in the Mediterranean. Learn about your supermarket’s delivery service. Can it provide you with food when the weather is bad or if you can’t get out of the house? Also contact the store to learn what special programs or services they oﬀer to seniors.
- Feeling overwhelmed? Many supermarket chains have registered dietitians on staﬀ ready to help. Ask them about ways to integrate the Mediterranean Diet into your meals, or ask for a few Mediterranean recipes to get you on your way.