How to Motivate Seniors to Make Healthier Eating Choices


When you’re old enough to have lived through at least one war and a pandemic or two, raised children, suffered losses, and known great joys, you’re not likely to respond well to someone telling you to eat your broccoli. Encouraging seniors to make better eating choices is tricky. You want to help them live longer and enjoy better health, but if you are a family caregiver, you know it’s challenging to get seniors to break old habits.

The nutritionists working in Orlando retirement communities face this challenge often, and it can be difficult — even for professionals. However, the following tips can help you gently motivate a senior in your life to eat a healthier diet.

Add, Don’t Subtract

Taking away your loved one’s favorite ice cream or comfort-food casserole is not going to win you any points. Try adding new, healthier foods into the mix instead. Some healthy options include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Grass-fed dairy products
  • Omega-boosted eggs
  • Whole grains
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Chia and flax seeds
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as, Salmon or Tuna

Focusing on trying new things and making mealtime more adventurous is often a more palatable approach than cutting out “bad” foods a person has been eating their whole life.

Make Meal Prep Fun

Offer to come and help your parent or friend prepare meals for the week. Don’t focus on “healthy,” focus on fun. Bring the ingredients for one or two make-and-freeze healthy meals — a few portions for you to take home and a few to share. This may motivate your loved one to try healthy new foods and maybe even to share a few recipes of their own next time. 

Many seniors in Orlando, FL, independent living facilities become bored with cooking, especially if they are preparing food for only themselves. Having company in the kitchen is a great motivator for cooking nutritious food instead of eating whatever is convenient.

Share the Benefits of Specific Foods

Eating “healthier” is an ambiguous goal, but eating foods that are good for your vision, cholesterol, or a better mood is something to get excited about. Explain the specific benefits of a certain food, such as how almonds can help control blood sugar, and the seniors in your life may be more motivated to eat them.

Keep Their Palette in Mind

You’re not likely to motivate an older person to eat healthier if your suggestions include a lot of strange ingredients and foods they’ve never heard of. Try making your favorite recipes healthier instead. For example, add shredded, sautéed vegetables to meatloaf or replace half of the potatoes with cauliflower for mashed potatoes. Showing seniors that they can still enjoy their favorite dishes while eating healthier is a great way to keep them motivated.

Make It Beautiful

The old saying “We eat with our eyes first” is true. Even a salad of raw vegetables can look exciting if you take a little extra time to arrange it attractively. Keeping foods colorful, bright, and enticing to the eye will increase your loved one’s interest in trying them.

Healthy Options at Orlando Retirement Communities

One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about when your loved one moves into an Orlando retirement community is their healthy diet. Make sure the facility you choose offers a variety of nutritious, homemade meals in addition to private kitchenettes. 

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