Seniors' nutrition: eating whole foods for an active life

Kyle Mason was excited when he saw a position open for a chef at The Maple Residences in Steveston.

"I love Steveston," he explains, "and this was a perfect opportunity to work in the community where I live."

Graduating from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and working in private clubs and large chain hotels, Kyle brought his expertise to the kitchen of the seniors' independent living complex in Steveston.

Designing inviting menus for up to 160 residents has its challenges. "Lots of variety is the key," he says, "We work on a 28-day cycle for menus and we change things up every season. This is home for the seniors, so it's important that they're happy with the meals."

Seniors often lack vital vitamins and minerals in their diets. Kyle recommends making sure the following are included in any senior diet:

·       Calcium: eating milk and plain yoghurt is key to getting enough calcium as we age. "Commercial fruit flavoured yoghurt has a lot of sugar and even salt," says Kyle, "so we provide plain yoghurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit, a little honey, or even a homemade berry sauce."

·       Vitamin B12: as we age, our bodies absorb less of this important vitamin. Kyle recommends that seniors eat plenty of green veg, fish, and some animal protein to make sure they get enough B12.

·       Fibre: "At The Maple Residences we serve bran muffins every day and make sure seniors have access to fresh fruit at just about every meal."

·       Omega 3: fresh fish is an excellent source of this fatty acid. "A lot of our residents at The Maples grew up in Steveston," notes Kyle, "Fish has always been a big part of their diet and we make sure it's represented on our menus."

Many foods today are loaded with sodium. "Seniors should keep an eye on sodium levels," advises Kyle. "Eating unprocessed foods is important; avoid or limit your intake of pre-made soups or packaged entrees. One processed meal can easily contain almost double the recommended daily intake of sodium."

Fresh, wholesome food, and a diet aimed at healthy, active seniors are on the menu at The Maples. For more information about The Maples and the food they serve, visit their website, call 604.277.4519 or email them.  You can also find The Maples on Facebook and Twitter.

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