A primary concern for seniors is proper nutrition. “Proper” may include not eating enough healthy food or possibly eating too much food. Both areas can cause problems for the senior, but today we will focus on “too much food.”
For those overeaters, an interesting idea to consider is a diet plate with markers to show how big portions should be. A study in a recent issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that the cereal bowl and plate helped older obese patients with diabetes lose weight and decrease their use of glucose-controlling medications.
Restricting calories has been shown to improve blood sugar control in diabetics by helping them lose weight. “The increasing prevalence of obesity is paralleled by increasing portion sizes in the marketplace,” the authors write. “Portion sizes are an important determinant of energy intake; the number of calories ingested by subjects at a meal has been directly correlated with the serving size offered.”
Sue D. Pedersen, M. D.,F.R.C.P.C. and colleagues at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, conducted a six-month controlled trial of commercially available portion control plates and bowls. The plates were divided into sections for carbohydrates, proteins, cheese and sauce, with the rest left open for vegetables.
At the end of the six-month follow-up, individuals using the portion-control dishes lost an average of 1.8 percent of their body weight, while those receiving usual care lost an average of 0.1 percent. A significantly larger proportion of those using the dishes — 16.9 percent vs. 4.6 percent — lost at least five percent of their body weight.
Also if the senior is overeating due to being bored, having a companion might be a benefit. Consider whether eating with friends would help place the focus on the friendship instead of the food.
If companionship is needed, a senior could contact an agency such as Home Instead Senior Care to get a caregiver to help with meal assistance as well as nonmedical services.
For more information you may contact Susan Guy and Martha Owen, local owners of the Home Instead Senior Care, @ 910-484-7200 or visit www.homeinstead.com.