Sunday, September 14, 2008

Independent Centenarian Still Makes Herself Small Meals

My source: www.miamiherald.com/living/food/story/622558.html+utha+deen&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Giving seniors an appetite for life -- and food
Posted on Thu, Jul. 31, 2008

BY MARY MEEHAN
McClatchy News Service

It might just be some vegetable soup, a grilled pimento cheese sandwich and a glass of milk, but 102-year-old Utha B. Deen makes a point to make herself a nice little lunch and supper every day.

Still, her daughter, Betty, frets.

''She's always fussing at me for not eating enough,'' said Deen.

There is a bowl of fresh peaches and bananas in her cozy kitchen, and Deen is likely to cook up a roast and parcel it out in other dishes throughout the week.

Still, like lots of seniors who live on their own, Deen has to be vigilant to make sure she gets proper nutrition. Some of the challenge is cooking for one. Some of it is in response to how the human body changes as we age.

''The metabolic rate slows down,'' said Maria G. Boosalis, director of the division of clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Health Services. ``The amount of calories we need does go down. Our taste buds don't work as well; we don't smell as well.''

She said older people also tend to have a reduced appetite. Some medicines can change the sense of taste and make you feel less hungry, said Diana Doggett, a Fayette County, Ky., extension agent.

Another issue is dental health. If your teeth aren't healthy, chewing can be a problem and nutrition suffers.

So what can seniors do?

Dietary needs vary depending on age, sex and level of activity. Most seniors need 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day, Boosalis said. Ideally, that would include 1 ½ cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables, 5 ounces of grain, three servings of dairy and 5 teaspoons of fat. Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D also is important -- to keep bones strong -- as is a diet high in fiber to keep bowels moving regularly and lower the risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

For seniors who might not make it to the grocery as easily or as often as they used to, eating properly can be tough. Although fresh is best, a good alternative can be frozen strawberries or blueberries, with no added sugar, and frozen vegetables. Make sure the pantry has staples including whole grains, peanut butter and shelf-stable milk.

And don't forget about water. As we age, we can experience a decline in the ability to sense thirst, Doggett said.


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Her daughter would do well to quit worrying; not only is that not a trait that will get her mother's age, but it has long been established that reduced caloric intake is likely why her mother is still around and healthy in the first place. You'd think these people would understand that the centenarians are the ones who are doing stuff right!

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