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Worst Meal Choices in a Nursing Home

By Jan Bolder - April 9, 2014

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One of the fears we have when placing our senior in a nursing home is that they'll be properly nourished and looked after. However, that's not always the case as funding dollars can get stretched extremely tightly, causing meals to suffer in quality. In this article, we'll take a look at meal choices that probably shouldn't be on the menu as regular offerings, followed up by foods that make a much better impact.

Mashed Potatoes and Meal with Gravy

There's nothing wholly wrong with this meal option, except it's not a great idea to have day in and day out. While meat is a good source of protein, it's best if found in white meat chicken and fish, and cheap cuts of beef or pork are usually the de facto meat in nursing homes. Mashed potatoes are also decent, but when paired with gravy, the sodium count can climb off the charts.

Smarter Choice: Fish, rice and steamed vegetables.

Hamburger and Fries

This meal choice also isn't bad, but it's not great on a daily basis. Unfortunately, due to how cheap it is to secure and make (and this meal can get incredibly cheap), it doesn't exactly offer a top choice of nutrition. This meal is better left to the "occasional eats" category, and not served on a daily basis.

Smarter Choice: A hamburger made from ground meat (beef, lamb, chicken, tuna or pork) with whole wheat buns, and a salad instead of fries. Better yet, make a grilled chicken sandwich instead of using ground meat.

Pizza

Again, there's nothing overtly wrong with this meal choice, and only becomes bad when people get carried away by the toppings (although it's high carb content isn't something to indulge in regularly, either). But it's an easy and quick meal to make, and doesn't cost much money at all.

Smarter Choice: Use multigrain dough instead of white, skip the sodium-high pepperoni for vegetables, and use a thin crust to reduce the amount of carbs.

Pasta Anything

Just as with pizza, pasta is high in carbs, and the white version adds very few nutrients to the meal. Plus, the tendency to drown it in a cream sauce or eat it with a roll far outweighs whatever nutrition it provides, and it leads to a very full and sleepy feeling post-meal.

Smarter Choice: Use whole wheat fresh pasta, and dress it like the Italians do (olive oil with chunky tomatoes, lots of vegetables, and just enough sauce to tint the pasta).

Not all nursing home meals have to be blah or non-nutritious, with their healthy alternatives just a simple article away. And if you're worried cost is a factor, a trip down the ethnic foods aisle at your local grocery store can offer big savings on fresh and nutritious food.