Reducing meat intake and increasing vegetables helps your senior avoid malnutrition, lower blood cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of diabetes. Plus, vegetarian meals can often be even tastier than their meat counterparts. Your elderly parent should try swapping one meat-based meal for a vegetarian one during October’s National Vegetarian Month. The benefits from just this one meal are impressive.
How do you change to a vegetarian diet? Here are a few ideas, and how senior home care can help your parent make the transition.
Focus on the Protein
When you swap out a vegetarian meal for a meat-based one, you’re going to have protein still. Typically, you’ll use tofu/tempeh or beans in place of the protein. You could also choose eggs, oats, seeds, wild rice, seitan, or high-protein vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, and artichokes.
Suppose your mom wants a beef and broccoli stir-fry for dinner. Purchase or make tempeh, slice it, and use that in place of the meat. Seitan has a meaty texture, but it’s made from wheat. Serve the stir-fry on steamed brown rice.
Make Sure Snacks Are Available
Your parents should eat throughout the day. Smaller portions more often help keep them from craving foods and overeating at a meal. A vegetarian diet helps with this. Beans and fiber help them feel fuller. You still need to make sure they have things to snack on.
Fresh vegetables with a low-fat sour cream dipping sauce are one option. You could also make protein balls with cocoa powder, old-fashioned oats, natural almond or peanut butter, and Medjool dates. After forming them into bite-size balls, roll them in unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced almonds, or hemp seed hearts.
Keep It Balanced
Once you’re sure the meal contains enough protein, balance the rest of the meal to meet your mom and dad’s requirements for fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamin D. Talk to their doctors to see if they have special dietary needs. Working with a dietitian helps if they do need to plan meals carefully.
If you use seitan, it contains fiber due to the wheat. You still need to ensure your parents get enough omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, etc.
Lentils offer many of the nutrients your parents need. They’re high in fiber and are filling. Use lentils as a meat substitute in sloppy joes or pasta sauce. Curry is an easy dish to make, and you can make a quick meal with lentils, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and sweet potatoes in a curry sauce.
Don’t worry about your parents having a hard time cooking meals. You may not be close enough to cook for them, but senior home care aides can stop by and make sure your parents eat regularly. Call a senior home care expert to learn more about meal preparation services.