Food Plays a Key Role in Social Identity

March is not only host to St. Patrick’s Day and the official beginning of Spring, but the month also marks Nutrition Month in Canada.  As research discovers more about the significant role diet plays in health, well-being and social identity, the more important food becomes to help promote a good quality of life.  

According to a recent McMaster University Optimal Aging post, the theme of this year’s campaign is “Good for You”.  Food not only provides people with nutrition for a healthy body that can support an active, independent life but meals are also an integral part of social identity, culture and sense of community.  

Older adults, especially those who have lost loved ones, who have become isolated or suffered health problems often experience a change in eating behaviors that can threaten physical and mental health.  Preparing and sitting down to meals alone can lead to intense feelings of loneliness and loss.  When no longer able to physically manage cooking, seniors often experience a loss of identity because they can no longer fulfill their lifelong caregiving role.  

Whether learning to cook for oneself for the first time, or finding it necessary to relinquish meal preparation to someone else, changes in circumstances may lead to unhealthy eating habits.  If you or a family member has become disinterested in eating a healthy, nutritious diet, talking with a healthcare professional can help older adults develop an eating plan that supports healthy aging, especially for those with chronic health conditions.  

Although many seniors are still isolating due to COVID-19, finding ways to enjoy dining solo could include sharing a meal with friends or family virtually, taking a picnic lunch outdoors when the weather allows or meeting at a restaurant that has an outdoor patio option.  At home, meals can be more pleasurable while listening to music, reading a book or magazine, or checking your emails.  Older adults who can no longer physically manage the kitchen can still contribute to meal planning and preparation by helping to transcribe family recipes, create shopping lists or read cooking instructions aloud.  

Meal delivery plans that provide fully prepared, prepped and preportioned ingredients or raw kits for those who enjoy cooking, can help alleviate boredom and the hassle of planning and shopping for food.  There are many varieties of kits; organic, Mediterranean, vegetarian, diabetes-friendly, or gluten-free.  Visit The Senior List for some of the best meal delivery service options for seniors.