As the percentage of obese adults aged 65 and over reached 27.6% in 2017, it’s clear that American seniors are as affected by obesity as their children and grandchildren. While it’s possible to plan healthy meals, reduce portion sizes and so on at home, it can be much more difficult to watch your weight when you regularly eat out. Whether you’re purely interested in weight loss or are trying to manage a health condition such as “sundowning”, seeking out healthy catering options can make for happier mealtimes and better long term health.
Plan to succeed
A balanced diet can help prevent diseases and strengthen the body, so plan your week wisely to ensure you’re getting a breadth of proteins and vitamins. For days when you will be eating at catered events, use them as an opportunity to try something you might not usually cook at home, whether that’s an authentic vegetable curry or an unusual variety of fish. Don’t assume that catered food has to be unhealthy; there are plenty of caterers offering healthy and delicious choices. Away at a conference? Pick up some fresh fruit at breakfast and keep it for snacking later in the day. If you know an event is going to be particularly full of treats, perhaps plan a gentle walk with a friend or colleague, to aid digestion and burn a few calories.
Make good choices
From increasing iron consumption to guard against anemia, to lowering salt intake to improve cardiac health, there’s a lot that can be done to boost the body with careful nutrition. Enjoying catered food doesn’t have to mean abandoning this approach. If your goal is to reduce weight and build muscle strength, look out for protein rich options such as eggs, lean white meat and fish. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are great for strengthening bones against arthritis. Omega 3-rich oily fish such as salmon and tuna help protect against joint-related conditions. If you’re choosing from a work canteen or catering truck, omelettes, jacket potatoes with tuna and plenty of fruit and yogurt are solid choices.
Things to avoid
If you’re regularly using catering companies, try to keep an eye on the fat and sodium content of your meals. The consequences of a high fat diet are fairly well known, but too much sodium can harm your kidneys, heart and even your bones. While you can’t control how much salt has been used in cooking, you can choose not to add extra salt to your dish. Similarly with creamy sauces, dressings and butter, choose a low fat option or ask for them on the side so you can control your intake. It can also be difficult to avoid the temptation of a good pud; often the desserts offered by caterers look simply delicious! If you’d rather have the cheesecake than the fresh fruit, ask for a smaller portion. Most caterers will be happy to oblige.
With the right knowledge it is possible to seek out good food wherever you are, so don’t let catering throw your healthy eating intentions off track. Plan ahead where possible, by eating lighter meals when you’re at home or adding a little extra exercise to particularly indulgent days. Seek out healthier caterers if you can, and use these meals as opportunities to try a variety of foods which you may not cook at home. Enjoy happier, healthier mealtimes, and best of all, someone else can do the washing up.