HANDS-ON: Dietitian Kerryn Boogaard and business partner home economist Mary Wills showing a class that good food can be easy and tasty.
HANDS-ON: Dietitian Kerryn Boogaard and business partner home economist Mary Wills showing a class that good food can be easy and tasty.

The perfect guide on how to cook, eat and enjoy for over-55s

IF YOU'VE put on a little weight over the festive period, don't get "sucked in by the New Year fad diet and detox promotions".

Central Coast dietitian Kerryn Boogaard, of The Wholesome Collective, said these would leave you hungry and they "are not nutritional sound to support the overall health and wellbeing of seniors (or anyone really)!"

Kerryn and home economist Mary Wills established The Wholesome Collective in 2015, and have developed a book - Cook, Eat and Enjoy: A Guide for Over-55s on How to Eat Well and Find Inspiration in the Kitchen. Instead of fad diets, Kerryn advised focusing on opportunities to add more vegetables/salads to our plates, enjoy minimally processed foods and stay hydrated.

Kerryn said she found many Seniors cooking for just themselves found it hard to maintain motivation, leading to skipped meals, tea and toast, or snacking on nutrient-poor foods such as biscuits, crackers and cakes.

"This leads to an inadequate intake of key nutrients such as protein, healthy fats and calcium, compromising many aspects of good health and general physical and mental wellbeing," she said.

As we age, muscle mass and activity levels decline, as does our metabolism, meaning we need less kilojoules or calories, but more protein, calcium, vitamins D and B.

Snacking out of habit and eating after dinner are poor eating patterns which can be changed simply by really listening to your hunger and making sure main meals are balanced, Kerryn said.

For most Seniors, that's based on allocating quarter of the plate to protein (eggs, fish or chicken), quarter to quality carbohydrates (legumes, low GI brown rice, starchy vegetables or wholegrain bread) and half the plate to non-starchy vegetables.

Think about planning your meals and cooking some in bulk (and freezing) so there is always something readily available, or arrange to eat with someone at least once a week, perhaps cooking for each other, and thus giving you incentive to create and enjoy food again.

As for inspiration? That can be a real challenge, especially if you've lost someone, have low energy levels, health issues or are just burnt out after many years of cooking for a family.

"Cooking with others in a similar situation and learning some new methods, recipes and ingredients can really help to spark new inspiration," Kerryn said.

To find out more, or to buy the book, which has 40 pages of nutrition information and over 40 recipes especially suited to Seniors, go to www.thewholesomeco.com.au or call Kerryn on 0402208975.