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Wishing you well and meaning it

As I’m writing this I’m only two days into my New Year’s resolution. You however are reading this several days later and you (and I) are probably already wondering why we decided to do this, how are we going to keep this up and have possibly already given up. I know, I too always say I’m not making any resolutions for that very reason! However, down inside, I really do anyway. There’s something about the freshness of January and the real chance to “start over” that makes you think you can really do it this time. It’s like you have a clean piece of paper to make a new list on (the holiday lists are hopefully thrown away by now!) and you just want to do it!

Of course, many, many resolutions, including mine revolve around getting healthier, losing weight and exercising more. Seems like this could be 2013 or 2008 or 1995 – you get the picture! What about those goals to just plain “be well?”

Have you noticed how often people like to wish each other well, especially around the holidays? Our holiday cards send tidings of comfort and joy, and our first question upon greeting our loved ones is usually “How are you?”

What if we did take these well wishes one step further? What if we really meant it? What if we actually encouraged specific actions that could keep ourselves and our loved ones well, especially our oldest loved ones?

Here are a few tips that may help with that first step, eating just a bit healthier. These tips are especially helpful for older adults.

Prepare healthier foods: It’s important as we are preparing meals for family gatherings to keep our senior family members’ dietary needs in mind. Look for salt substitutes and ways to replace higher-fat ingredients with more healthy alternatives.

For example, some cake recipes allow replacing butter with a healthier option such as applesauce. One popular brownie recipe even calls for using the healthy high-fiber option of black beans, just don’t tell guests what they’re eating!

Add these Top Ten senior smart foods to your diet – they may seem like common staples for any healthy diet, but the following 10 foods hold special nutritional value for seniors and can help slow aging and the risks of diseases often associated with growing older. These items also are versatile enough to be used in a variety of recipes.

1 Oatmeal: A great source of soluble fiber, oatmeal has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

2 Eggs: With only 75 calories per serving, eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, important to absorbing calcium needed for bone strength. Lutein and zeaxanthin found in egg yolks may reduce the risk for cataracts and help prevent macular degeneration.

3 Yogurt: Rich in calcium, yogurt can contribute to the calcium requirement needed to prevent osteoporosis. Good bacteria are added to some yogurt, which may help people with digestive problems that often accompany aging. Mixing yogurt with fortified cereal provides added vitamins, including vitamin B12, which many seniors have difficulty absorbing from foods that naturally contain that vitamin.

4 Blueberries: These blue beauties are among the top fruits and vegetables for antioxidants. Research on aging and Alzheimer’s disease reveals that blueberries may also improve memory and coordination.

5 Apples: The benefits of apples are too numerous to name. The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body, which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes.

6 Fish: Bluefish, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and tuna (bluefin and albacore) are a low-fat, high-protein source of nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends fatty fish twice a week to improve heart health.

7 Chicken: Poultry is an excellent source of protein that contains less fat than most meats. Chicken, especially breast meat, contains half the fat of a steak. Chicken also has niacin and selenium, which possess cancer-fighting properties.

8 Broccoli: A good source of multiple nutrients including vitamins K, C, E, B, and calcium and iron, broccoli has been found to protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke and macular degeneration.

9 Sweet potatoes and squash: Sweet potatoes provide beta carotene and vitamins C and E, all of which promote healthy skin, hair and eyesight. Squash is a good source of beta carotene and vitamin C.

10 Rice: As a complex carbohydrate, rice digests slowly, allowing the body to utilize the energy released over a longer period, which is nutritionally efficient. Rice has low sodium content and contains useful quantities of potassium, the B vitamins, thiamin and niacin. Rice contains only a trace of fat, no cholesterol and is gluten free, so it’s suitable for people with celiac disease.

Here’s to wishing you well! You might also consider getting a partner, a good buddy to encourage you and join in your goal to maintain good health. If you have any questions, or if we can be of any help, please call me at 218-824-0077.

Next month we’ll talk more about specific ideas for senior adults to maintain and improve their physical health with exercises that are safe and easy to fit into your daily routine right in your own home. Get ready for step 2!!

DEB CRANNY is the executive director at Home Instead Senior Care in Brainerd.