Nutrition for the Picky Eater

By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Dr. Marion

Picky eaters have been around forever, and they come in all ages, from one to 101. But even picky eaters have favorite foods. Find out what your loved one likes, and as long as it's nutritious, feed him more of it.

Every family has at least one well-used cookbook. Find an old family favorite and cook it. This may be extra work, but it is well worth the joy it brings to your elder's senses and emotions. Food often brings back positive childhood memories associated with that meal. This allows you to feed the body and soul all at once.

If you think of the dinner plate as an artist's palate, it might help ensure that your elder loved one gets enough basic, healthy foods. I'm talking about a natural variety of colors and textures for fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. Try to provide a balanced diet that includes protein (meat, fish, soy milk, beans, whole grains, and nuts), B12 (meat, soy products, cereal), calcium (milk, spinach, kale, broccoli, almonds, other dairy products), iron (lentils, beans, spinach, bran flakes, dried fruit), and zinc (pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts) among others. A good place to find more information on balanced nutrition is

Nutrition and eating are very basic needs, and as we age, these needs change. Before you do anything about your loved one's eating habits, it's important to visit his primary doctor, geriatrician and/or nutritionist to get professional guidance.

On a final note, a bit about swallowing: If your loved one is having any difficulty swallowing, foods may need to be chopped, pureed, or turned into liquid supplements, but be sure to address it with his doctor as soon as possible. Also, make sure you account for any food allergies. This especially needs to be common knowledge for anyone else involved in his care.

©2007 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.


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