In honor of #NutritionMonth for March, which focuses on the important role Dietitians play when it comes to food and nutrition, I sat down and interviewed one of our amazing Dietitians of Villa Cathay Care Home to provide you with some helpful information and break some myths that you might be curious about.
As our Administrative Dietitian, Cindy Chiu works closely with our kitchen team to ensure the excellent standard of our food. Her passion for senior care led her to a career at Villa Cathay, where she’s excited to be a part of the team bringing one of Vancouver’s largest senior care home to life by 2021!
Question: As seniors age, the nutrients needed to maintain your body’s strength may change. A well balanced diet means consuming a variety of nutrients to continue to strengthen and maintain your body’s needs. What are some of the essential vitamins and minerals seniors need to consume or pay more attention to?
As seniors age, constipation becomes more common because metabolism slows down. Increasing fiber consumption is a good way to prevent constipation. Fiber is found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals.
For a senior to maintain mobility and to continue living independently as they age, protein is an important nutrient. Protein helps to keep muscles strong and can be found in food like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones for seniors to prevent diseases like osteoporosis. Calcium can be found in milk and soy products – which our seniors drink during breakfast and snack time.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed to help your body absorb calcium and balance calcium levels. Vancouver is famous for its seasons of rainfall so it is always good to get some in your body. Foods like salmon or soy milk have good sources of Vitamin D – items to be found in our regular menu!
Myth: I’ve heard many people say that as you age, you shouldn’t eat fatty foods because it could lead to heart problems and overweight issues.
THE FACT IS:
Seniors need a well-balanced diet. There are 4 kinds of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fat. It is important to know that fat is needed for your body as a source of energy and ways to absorb vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. Fat is also needed to insulate our bodies and protect organs. Focus on consuming fewer saturated fats and more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
At Villa Cathay, we’re all about promoting quality of life for our seniors. When consumed in moderation, there isn’t a food that a senior absolutely cannot have unless they have a specific health condition that will be immediately impacted (e.g. requiring lower potassium). Food should be enjoyable at any age. Overall, we try to support our resident’s preferences and requests while balancing to meet their nutritional needs.
Question: Villa Cathay is a culturally focused senior care home. That being said, how do you balance the nutritional needs of seniors while ensuring that they can enjoy the culturally appropriate and tasty food that they grew up enjoying?
Luckily, culturally appropriate Chinese food have healthy alternatives as well. Fresh vegetables are a staple in traditional Chinese food so we keep that as a priority on our menu. Fish is also very popular among our residents which we have at least a couple times per week on our menu. For special occasions such as various Chinese festivals, we make or bring in specialty items including red bean soup or moon cakes for our residents to enjoy. One of their favourites is our homemade daikon cake!
Question: Here’s a fun one – if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Just like our residents, I too need a balanced diet with a variety of food to get all the nutrients I need! But if I had to pick… it would definitely be noodles but jazzed up with vegetables and protein.