Added sugar is a bigger deal in foods than you might have realized. It can be especially important for your senior to start really looking at how much added sugar she’s getting in her diet each day. Here are a few steps to take to reduce your senior’s sugar intake, and how home care can help her stick with these changes.
Get Familiar with Food Label Information
Sugar has a lot of different names, and it’s important to get familiar with as many of them as possible. Generally speaking, words that end in the suffix -ose are likely to be a sugar. Some examples include sucrose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup, for instance, is another type of refined sugar. Look at the ingredients, but also at the part of the label that gives calorie and added sugar information in grams. The higher that number is, the higher the added sugars in each serving.
Reduce Sugar Before Just Cutting it Completely
Cutting sugar completely is an admirable goal and there’s no doubt that your senior’s diet would probably benefit, but it’s also unrealistic. If your aging family member eats a diet high in added sugars now, cutting sugar completely would be a shock to her system and to her taste buds. Not to mention that her body would respond with withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, exhaustion, muscle pain, and mood swings.
Buy Unsweetened When You Can
When you can, it’s a good idea to buy unsweetened versions of foods, particularly prepared foods. Sugar can lurk in some unlikely places. For instance, some frozen fruits and vegetables include added sugar for no real reason other than flavoring. Checking the ingredients and the nutritional label can help you to spot those versions and avoid them.
But Don’t Avoid All Sweet Foods
But again, you want to avoid cutting out all sweet foods and sugary items. That’s especially true if your senior has leaned on these items heavily in her daily diet. Gradually reducing is one thing, and it’s probably a good idea. Home care providers can help your senior to strike a healthy balance between sweet treats and healthier options.
Opt for Natural Over Artificial Sweeteners
Any time you can, it’s a good idea to avoid artificial sweeteners. These artificial sugars often have zero calories, which makes them appealing. But they can sometimes cause sensitivities in some people and they can often leave an aftertaste that isn’t appealing. Natural sugars are less likely to have that effect on your elderly family member.
Help Your Senior Stick with the Plan
The biggest issue you’re likely to face is that your senior may not be as on board with this plan as you’d like her to be. You can make it easier by having home care providers help out with meal preparation and grocery shopping, especially if you’re not able to handle those tasks. Home care providers can help your senior to track what she’s eating and drinking, too, getting a solid idea how much sugar she’s really eating a day.
Talk with your aging family member’s doctor about what she can do to avoid too much added sugar. Having a plan gives you a way to help your senior to meet those goals.