Barbecues are a staple of summer leisure time. There are few better ways to make memories and enjoy the summer weather than getting together for a good cookout, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to connect with your older loved ones. Good food, good conversation, and good atmosphere all add up to a memorable day.
Important Considerations for Senior Health
When planning a barbecue with your loved one, it’s important to consider what nutritious foods for older adults really are. Before planning any dish, narrow down the foods based on dietary restrictions to get a broader idea of what you’ll be working with.
Typical barbecue foods like corn on the cob, certain salads, and meats that are high in fat can actually have a negative impact on our seniors’ digestive systems. It’s important to keep it low in fat, low in sodium, and high in fiber. You may also need to consider sugar substitutes for marinades or other sauces if your loved one is diabetic. Vitamin D is a key player in health as we age, too, so keep that in mind.
Don’t forget to hydrate! As we age, our thirst response doesn’t work as well, so it’s easier for seniors to become dehydrated without realizing it. Drinks with alcohol can exacerbate dehydration, so be sure to provide plenty of water to counter the summer heat.
Choosing the Right Ingredients
So, what is the palette of flavors you can work with? Thanks to many meat substitutes, low-sodium and low-sugar options, and gluten-free solutions like almond flour, it’s easy to find something to achieve the flavor you want if the recipe calls for some unfavorable ingredients. It goes without saying that it’s important to check in with your loved one to see what they prefer to eat.
Good foods to work with include:
- Lean proteins like eggs, beans, skinless chicken, and seafood
- Fruits and vegetables that are green, red, orange, and purple
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
The fruits and vegetables should make up a significant portion of the meal, which acts in your favor – if you use all the colors and mix them, the plate looks fantastic. Good food is also a sight to behold, not just something to taste.
Using the list of nutritious foods that are right for your loved one, come up with some creative alternatives or unique concepts on your own. Remember, you can always have a salt shaker handy for those who don’t mind having more sodium in their foods. But start with low salt content. Here are some barbecue ideas:
- Chicken seasoned in low-fat, low-sodium marinade
- Grilled fish breaded in almond flour and mild seasonings
- Potato salad w/ low-fat mayonnaise
- Pasta salad
- Grilled veggie skewers
- Macaroni and cheese
- Collard greens
- Banana pudding
- Minced berries as a dessert topping
Variety can be a good thing, but too much might be overwhelming. Focus on quality, and don’t take too many culinary risks. Maybe try one or two challenging dishes to show you’ve put love into the meal.
Pick the Right Place
A summer barbecue can take place in many different settings. If you’re hosting one to connect with your loved one, find out if they have a place that’s reminiscent of a good memory – even if it’s a bit of a drive to get there. There’s nothing more enjoyable than hearing those stories we’d never thought we’d hear from our loved ones’ pasts. Take them somewhere that will let them take a trip down memory lane with you for a truly fulfilling experience.
We hope we’ve given you a jumping-off point for your barbecue so you can enjoy a unique summer memory with your loved one. If you’d like more recipe ideas, peruse our Milestone Retirement blog by topic.