The Challenge of Cooking for One

We all know how important a nutritious diet is to good health. For older people eating well can be a huge challenge for many reasons.

There can be physical challenges to eating that hinder a balanced diet, such as wearing dentures, weak or shaking hands, the loss of the sense of smell which makes food less appealing, and other issues. Then add the challenge of cooking a meal, and a real problem has arisen.

Cooking a meal involves much more than just mixing the ingredients together and subjecting the mixture to heat until they are edible. Cooking is in many ways an emotional and psychological experience which can easily ask an elderly person to perform in ways that can be quite difficult.

The loss of a partner, in many cases after decades of intimate companionship, can easily interfere with cooking and eating. Especially in the case of men, who usually did a limited amount, if any, cooking, while their wives were alive. But women also can be confounded at this juncture in life: after cooking for a husband, children, and guests, for years, making the change to cooking for one can be next to impossible.

One study showed that living alone has a huge detrimental effect on the health of older people. They are more likely to have a diet poor in variety with less fresh fruit and vegetables.

So what can we do to help loved ones to improve their diets and even cook more healthy, tasty meals?

Try a joint trip to the market. The sights, sounds and smells of the food will hopefully stimulate their interest in incorporating more fresh foods, in larger varieties, into their diets. Also, after you get home with all the interesting ingredients, cook something simple together, and then eat it together. This is a great way to help encourage your loved one to get into the habit of cooking and eating better, more nutritious, and tasty meals.