As we age, our bodies change, and we find ourselves struggling with issues we didn’t even think about 10 years before. Part of this change includes the transformation of our lifestyles, including our social lives, eating habits, and exercise routines. The difference in eating behaviours can be a result of many things, such as; an increased/ decreased appetite, a new living space or a decrease/ loss of taste.
Assessing Your Appetite:
When trying to assess your appetite, it is best to look back at how your eating has changed over the last few years. Think back to two years ago – what, and how much did you eat? Are you eating the same kinds of food, and are you eating the same volume of food? If not – why not?
Make a list of what differences there are in your life – did you move, or lose a loved one? Did you used to cook, and now have meals delivered?
Take a look at this list and analyse what you see. Do you think you eat better now than you did two years ago? If so – well done. If not – what are the reasons?
If it’s because you have moved, or lost a loved one, have you spoken to someone (be it a psychologist, counsellor, religious leader) about your feelings? Emotional strain is often reflected in our eating behaviours, as when we are hurting, we often tend to adjust our eating, without realising it. We feel nauseous, have stomach cramps, lose our appetite, or even overeat, all as a way of trying to hide our emotions. This uncontrolled eating behaviour can be detrimental to our health – Overeating may result in gaining weight, which could result in an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. While under-eating can cause someone to lose weight, become frail, which could result in a falling and serious injury.
Making Changes To Your Eating Habits:
Try to identify why your appetite has changed, and work on resolving the problem.
If you notice that you don’t cook anymore, but rather order meals, decide if you eat differently because of the type of meals provided, or if it’s because of the portion sizes. Do you enjoy the meals served? If not – speak to the meal provider and let them know what you do/ do not like, and the amounts that you prefer – they may be able to accommodate your requests. If they cannot, are you able to find another supplier who can?
If you have recently moved, you may find that your eating has changed. This could be a result of stress (from the move), or the fact that you don’t have a full kitchen, or that your kitchen is smaller/ not as well equipped. If your kitchen is smaller, or you have limited appliances, it is important that you spend some time looking at the space/ equipment you have. Assess your cupboard space and plan how and where you will store what. Make sure that the containers you have easily fit into the cupboards, and that you can easily move them when are full. If you cannot reach all the shelves, ask somebody to help you store seldom used items up there. Shop around for clever shelving ideas (for example, spice steps, which make it easier to pack and see spice bottles in the cupboard).
If your new kitchen/ cooking area only has space for a microwave, but you’re used to cooking on a stove/ in an oven – invest in a microwave cookbook, or ask friends and family for recipes. If you have a smaller fridge than you’re used to, try drawing up a weekly meal plan, and shop accordingly – this way you will buy only what you need, and just enough to fit in your fridge. Spend time in your kitchen, packing and repacking your cupboards until you’re happy that cooking can flow easily.
Changes in Appetite with Age
A decrease/ loss of taste is common as one grows older. This may be a result from a number of things. The most common culprit is medication. Often medications can result in someone having a metallic taste in their mouths, which results in food tasting terrible, or a loss of taste, so food is bland or unappetising, resulting in you eating less.
If this is the case, it is important to speak to your doctor about the medicine you are taking and the possible side effects it may cause. Your doctor may then adjust or change your medicine.
If you are not sure if your taste has been affected – look at your eating habits. If you find you are adding more salt/ spices/ sugar to food than you used to, or that you’re eating sweeter foods more often (for example, only eating pudding), you may be doing this because your taste has decreased – speak to your doctor about it, it may be related to your medication.
Healthy eating is important in all stages of your life, and is closely related to your overall health. Do not let your age affect how you look after yourself. If you find that you are eating differently, try to identify why, and then make a change – getting professional help if you need to.
Need more information on eating habits? Contact Raylene here or on 010 040 7791.