Why is snacking healthy for elderly people?

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

Often the elderly lose their appetite and don’t eat very much at all. You may have noticed they crave only sweets or salty foods as their tastes buds change. Chewing may be more difficult if they have dental issues. Packing in some healthy puddings, yogurt or even protein shakes and fruit smoothies can help you find a way to sneak in the calories and nutrition they need.

Snacking, healthy snacking, can be very beneficial for elders. Unintentional weight loss (an oxymoron to some of us) is a major signal of health decline in elders. Snacking between meals can play an important part in maintaining caloric intake. But it must be done smartly. Just as for the rest of us, snacks high in fat and refined sugars are not good choices. Snacks with a punch of protein and whole grains give far more "bang for the buck" nutritionally. There are lots of great places to look for inspiration, such as EatingWell.com.
If you are an older adult, snacking may be a good way to help get the calories you need each day.

A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at the diets of more than 2,000 adults aged 65 years and older and found snacking to be an important dietary behavior for them.

Eighty-four percent of the study subjects ate snacks daily, with an average of about 2 1/2 snacks per day. Those who ate snacks consumed significantly higher amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates and total fat throughout the day than non-snackers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.