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Frozen Meals for Seniors: What to Avoid and How to Choose Healthy Ones

a picture of the nutrition facts on a frozen meal box

Seniors left to their own devices may begin to avoid the hassle of meal preparation altogether. Thus, making them vulnerable to malnutrition and illness. This is why quick, convenient meals are a must. Caregivers can help seniors prevent malnutrition by considering the effort required to prep meals based on their loved one’s age as well as their mental and physical acuity.

For many seniors, frozen meals quickly become the go-to option. However, to ensure your loved one is eating nutritious and well-balanced meals, it is essential to review the nutrition labels.

Check These Four Important Nutrition Facts in Frozen Meals a list of four mood boosting foods

Sodium levels: Are they too high? Many seniors manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease. So, closely monitoring the sodium levels in their frozen meals is crucial.

  • Low-sodium food: less than 140 milligrams per serving
  • Moderate-sodium food: less than 400 milligrams per serving
  • High-sodium food: more than 400 milligrams per serving

Source: WebMD

If you are unsure what level of sodium is safe in your or your loved one’s diet – check with your doctor.

Sugar Content: How much sugar does the full frozen meal contain? Seniors who are diabetic or pre-diabetic will have stringent guidelines regarding the amount of sugar they can consume daily so check with their doctor for specifics. The American Heart Association’s recommendations for daily sugar intake are as follows:

  • Men: No more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.
  • Women: No more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.

Source: Heart.org

Protein: Is there adequate protein in the meal? Researchers have found that seniors dealing with chronic conditions or recovering from illness need much more protein in their diets than previously thought. Aging bodies are less efficient at processing proteins, leading to loss of muscle mass, strength, deterioration of bone health, and more. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the most cited standard for protein intake and is as follows:

  • 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day.
  • For example, A 150-pound woman would need to consume 55 grams of protein a day. In comparison, a 180-pound man would need 65 grams of protein per day.

Source: KHN.org

Is it a balanced meal?: Does it include each of the food groups? If not, can you supplement the frozen dinner with a piece of fresh fruit or a single-serve veggie on the side? Check out our Healthy Eating After 50 Infographic to understand what foods groups should be included in healthy meal plans for older adults.

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed now? We understand! Don’t forget that there are a variety of solutions and approaches you can employ to help ensure proper nutrition in the life of your loved one.

Ideas to Help Seniors Avoid Malnutrition

Food Prep: Cook meals for the week and keep them in the freezer or fridge!

Salads: Pre-packaged, protein-packed salads are easy to pick up at your local grocery store. Many grocers also offer pre-packaged or a selection of freshly made soups in the deli department. These make a quick and warming meal.

Meal Delivery Programs: There are many meal delivery programs out there for seniors, like Meals on Wheels.

Companion Care: A trained caregiver can offer the nourishment of both a nutritious meal AND a friendly conversation.

 

MegaphoneHome Care Tip:

Keep the recipes at the serving size they are, or double them, even if only cooking for one individual. You can freeze leftovers and have meals prepped for several nights with the same amount of prep work.

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