Current recommendations are for older adults to get around two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables each day. That’s about five cups in all. Despite this recommendation, the CDC found that around 10 percent of adults get that much.
How do you make sure your mom and dad are eating the right amounts of fruits and vegetables? Here are five ways to make it happen.
#1 – Have a Vegetarian Day
One or two days a week, have a vegetarian day. Instead of making a meal that includes meat, focus on a vegetarian day. Your dad loves chicken curry. Make a chickpea curry that’s loaded with vegetables instead. The chickpeas provide protein, and you can add a mix of vegetables like spinach, red peppers, carrots, and onions to boost vegetable intake.
Once a week, serve a favorite sandwich with a pot of homemade minestrone. Minestrone is packed with vegetables like kale, zucchini, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and beans.
#2 – Grow Produce at Home
If your parents enjoy gardening, one of the best ways to increase the number of vegetables is by growing them at home. When they open their refrigerator and see a small supply of produce, they’re likely to limit what they eat. If they have a bountiful garden with plenty of fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them in quantity.
#3 – Get It Ready to Eat
Prepare fruits and vegetables and package in ready-to-eat portions. If there are cucumber, carrot, and celery sticks already washed and sliced, your parents can quickly grab them when they’re hungry. It would be best if you also considered making small containers of hummus or yogurt ranch dips to entice them into snacking on raw veggies.
#4 – Be Sneaky About Adding Vegetables
If your parents don’t like many vegetables, start sneaking them into their foods. Your mom loves having a smoothie each day for breakfast. Add a handful of purple kale to her blueberry smoothie. Add a strong flavor like banana or passionfruit to help hide the taste of the kale.
#5 – Hire Caregivers to Cook Meals
Washing and preparing the fruits and vegetables they eat may be too much for your parents. Arthritis pain in the wrists and fingers can make it hard to slice, peel, or cube produce. Scrubbing away the dirt may be too difficult.
If that’s the problem, caregivers are an easy solution. You can have caregivers visit with your parents while preparing meals they’ll love. Caregivers can wash and prep a variety of fruits and vegetables for them. Call an agency to arrange food preparation services.