Eating Healthfully When You’re Alone
After dealing with the death of a spouse, the last thing you consider is your nutrition. Your health may suffer, though, now that you are eating alone. What is it about being alone that makes it difficult to eat healthfully? And what are some ways you can make sure you get the nutrients that you need?
The Challenges Of Eating Alone
Adjusting to a new living situation after the death of a spouse may lead to poor nutrition. Eating alone poses many challenges to achieving a nutritionally sound diet. For one, food simply tastes better when you are enjoying it with someone you love. In our society, food is not just about sustenance, but also about the pleasurable experience of mealtime. When you have the luxury of enjoying someone’s company at meals, mealtime becomes that much more pleasurable. When you suddenly find yourself eating alone, on the other hand, you may not enjoy your meals as much as you once did.
Another reason eating alone is difficult is that there is less incentive to cook. Perhaps you have spent years cooking well-rounded meals for your spouse and cooking for one is just not the same. Or maybe your spouse was in charge of the cooking and you do not know where to begin in the kitchen. Because of these new obstacles, many seniors end up swapping balanced meals for grazing and skipping meals.
The Importance Of Good Nutrition
Does it really make a difference whether you grab something out of the refrigerator or sit down for three meals a day? Yes, particularly as you get older. Healthy eating may reduce your risk of certain conditions, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a number of other chronic diseases. And your risk for developing these diseases increases as you age.
A healthy diet also provides you with the energy and nutrients you need to stay healthy. Eating healthfully will not only help you ward off obesity and chronic disease, it may even help prevent depression and keep your mind sharp.
To improve the nutritional quality of your diet, try the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ tips for healthy eating for older adults:
Tips For Eating Well When You’re Alone
If following these tips feels out of reach, try to think of things you can do to make healthy eating more enjoyable and convenient. Here are some tips from Colorado State University for eating well when you are alone:
Remember, eating a nutritionally-sound diet will help ward off disease and make your feel more energetic, happier, and healthier. When it comes to your diet, focus on yourself. Your friends and family will thank you.
American Dietetic Association
National Institute on Aging
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Better health and you: tips for adults. Weight-control Information Network website. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/better_health.htm. Updated March 2008. Accessed April 8, 2011.
Eat alone most of the time. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.orb/x16122.xml Accessed December 11, 2003.
Eating well as we age. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/lowlit/eatage.html . Accessed December 11, 2003.
Good nutrition for seniors. National Network for Health website. Available at: http://www.nnh.org/products/gnfs.htm . Accessed December 11, 2003.
Good nutrition: it’s a way of life. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.niapublications.org/engagepages/nutrition.asp . Accessed December 11, 2003.
Kubin L, Healthy eating alone. Colorado State University website. Available at: http://www.extensi.... Accessed April 8, 2011.
Young at heart: tips for older adults. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.n... . Accessed December 11, 2003.
Last reviewed April 2011 by Brian Randall, MD