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Picky Eating: Its not just for kids

As an example of a picky eater who would not be classified as having an eating disorder, Marcus referenced a woman who spoke on a radio program recently. The woman declared herself “the pickiest eater I've ever met” and explained that the thought of eating any cooked vegetable made her sick, though she didn't mind them raw.

“That is not a disorder,” said Marcus. “She has plenty of other foods to choose from and it's not affecting her health or well-being.”

In her practice at Western Psych, Marcus doesn't see many adults that she would classify as having such a disorder. “I think people don't identify themselves as having an eating disorder and it hasn't been considered an eating disorder,” she said. “They don't come to us.”

At Duke, Zucker encounters adult picky eaters mainly as the parents of children that she is treating for picky eating or other eating disorders.

Adults who are picky tend to like bland foods that are comfortable and colorless, said Marcus, such as plain pasta or french fries.

In both children and adults, picky eating can be caused by “food neophobia,” otherwise known as the fear of new foods, by sensory sensitivity to particular textures, or by traumatic experiences such as forced eating.

Still, the vast universe of picky eaters is poorly defined, Zucker said.

“It's been a pretty poorly operationalized construct — what it means to be a picky eater,” she said. “There's a lot of different definitions floating around. What we'll find is a huge continuum — we all have food quirks.”

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Skin Conditions

Everyone gets the odd spot, but longer-term skin conditions can affect your level of self-confidence, especially if they are on your face. If you are suffering from acne or dry skin, don't worry. There are lots of easy treatments around that can help. Seeing a dietitian like Nastaran to improve your diet may also help with Skin Conditions.

Spots

Most people get spots, and they do always seem to break out when you really don't want them to. They're caused by your glands producing too much sebum – a substance that your body produces naturally to stop your hair drying out. Too much sebum makes your skin oily and causes spots.

Spots usually go away, but there are some things you can do to make them disappear a bit quicker:

  • wash with an anti-bacterial face wash, instead of soap or shower gel, until the spots have gone
  • don't squeeze them, as this can spread the infection and cause more spot outbreaks
  • drinking a couple of pints of water a day can help

If your spots don't seem to be clearing up, you may be suffering from acne. Acne can be a more serious condition, so you should make an appointment with your doctor who can give you a check-up.

Acne

Acne is different from getting a few spots. It can appear on your back, shoulders and chest as well as your face and can sometimes be painful. Whether or not you suffer from acne doesn't depend on your level of personal hygiene; it can sometimes run in the family or it can be caused by high levels of stress.

Some people can get relatively mild forms of acne, where outbreaks are months apart. Others can get quite serious forms of the condition that can lead to scars. Although some sufferers get rid of acne by their early 20s, some people with very sensitive skin can still have the condition a number of years later.

Acne can also affect you emotionally. Sufferers of the condition can often get teased or bullied in school or college. It can also affect someone's self-confidence or body image and can cause stress – which in turn can make acne outbreaks even more severe.

Although special face washes and creams can help some people, serious acne usually needs to be treated with specialist medical treatments. These treatments are only available with a prescription. Make an appointment to see your doctor who can diagnose how serious the acne is decide the best course of action. Your doctor will also be able to talk to you about how to deal with any emotional distress you've suffered.

Dry skin

Patches of dry skin can affect anyone, especially when the weather turns colder and the wind starts to gust. Dry skin can form anywhere, but it's most common on your face, as that's the area that exposed to the cold air.

Using a moisturiser can help, as can using a lip balm if your lips are chapped. If your dry skin lasts for a long time and is itchy or feels hot when you touch it, go and see your doctor. They may be able to prescribe special creams that help more serious forms of dry skin like eczema or dermatitis.

Shaving rash

Teenage boys who shave may find that they get a rash on their chin or neck after shaving. Although it's not painful, you may find it becomes itchy and irritating.

Using moisturiser after you've finished shaving stops your skin from drying out. Using an aftershave that doesn't contain any alcohol can also help if you've got particularly sensitive skin.

Source: Directgov. Reproduced with permission.

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Healthy Eating for older adults

How Much Should I Eat?

How much you should eat depends on how active you are. If you eat more calories than your body uses, you gain weight.

What are calories? Calories are a way to count how much energy is in food. You use the energy you get from food to do the things you need to do each day.

Just counting calories is not enough for making healthy choices. For example, a medium banana, 1 cup of flaked cereal, 2-1/2 cups of cooked spinach, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or 1 cup of 1% milk–all have roughly the same number of calories. But, the foods are different in many ways. Some have more of the nutrients you might need than others do. Milk gives you more calcium than a banana, and peanut butter gives you more protein than cereal. And a banana is likely to make you feel fuller than a tablespoon of peanut butter.

How many calories do people over age 50 need each day?

A woman:

  • who is not physically active needs about 1,600 calories
  • who is somewhat active needs about 1,800 calories
  • who has an active lifestyle needs about 2,000-2,200 calories

A man:

  • who is not physically active needs about 2,000 calories
  • who is somewhat active needs about 2,200-2,400 calories
  • who has an active lifestyle needs about 2,400-2,800 calories

Here's a tip: Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all days of the week.

How Much Is on My Plate?

How does the food on your plate compare to how much you should be eating? For example, one very large chicken breast could be more from the meat/beans group than you are supposed to eat in a whole day. Here are some general ways you can check:

3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish = deck of cards

½ cup of fruit, rice, pasta, or ice cream = ½ baseball

1 cup of salad greens = baseball

1-1/2 ounces of cheese = 4 stacked dice

1 teaspoon of butter or margarine = 1 dice (or die)

2 tablespoons of peanut butter = ping pong ball

1 cup of flaked cereal or a baked potato = fist

Read the Label

At first, reading labels on many packaged foods may take some time. The facts there can help you make better food choices. Labels have a Nutrition Facts panel. It tells how much protein, carbohydrates, fats, sodium, key vitamins and minerals, and calories are in a serving. The panel also shows how many servings are in the package—be careful because sometimes what you think is one serving is really more.

Each can, bottle, or package label also has an ingredients list. Items are listed from largest amount to smallest.

Having Problems with Food?

Does your favorite chicken dish taste different? As you grow older, your sense of taste and sense of smell may change. Foods may seem to have lost flavor. Also, medicines can change how food tastes. They can also make you feel less hungry. Talk to your doctor about whether there is a different medicine you could use. Try extra spices or herbs on your foods to add flavor.

As you get older, you might not be able to eat all the foods you used to eat. For example, some people become lactose intolerant. They have symptoms like stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea after eating or drinking something with milk in it, like ice cream. Most can eat small amounts of such food or can try yogurt, buttermilk, or hard cheese. Lactose-free foods are available now also. Your doctor can test to see if you are lactose intolerant.

Is it harder to chew? Maybe your dentures need to fit better, or your gums are sore. If so, a dentist can help you. Until then, you might want to eat softer foods that are easier to chew.

Do I Need to Drink Water?

With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink plenty of liquids like water, juice, milk, and soup. Don't wait until you feel thirsty. Try to drink several large glasses of water each day. Your urine should be pale yellow. If it is a bright or dark yellow, you need to drink more liquids.

Be sure to talk with your doctor if you have trouble controlling your urine. Don't stop drinking liquids. There are better ways to help bladder control problems.

What about Fibre?

Fibre is found in foods from plants—fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eating more fibre might prevent stomach or intestine problems, like constipation. It might also help lower cholesterol, as well as blood sugar.

It is better to get fibre from food than dietary supplements. Start adding more fibre slowly. That will help avoid unwanted gas. Here are some tips for adding fibre:

  • Eat cooked dry beans, peas, and lentils often.
  • Leave skins on your fruit and vegetables if possible.
  • Choose whole fruit over fruit juice.
  • Eat whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to help fibre move through your intestines.

Should I Cut Back on Salt?

The usual way people get sodium is by eating salt. The body needs sodium, but too much can make blood pressure go up in some people. Most fresh food contains some sodium. Salt is added to many canned and prepared foods.

People tend to eat more salt than they need. If you are over age 50, about 2/3 of a teaspoon of table salt–1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium–is all you need each day. That includes all the sodium in your food and drink, not just the salt you add when cooking or eating. If your doctor tells you to use less salt, ask about a salt substitute. Some contain sodium. Also, don't add salt during cooking or at the table, and avoid salty snacks and processed foods. Look for the word sodium, not salt, on the Nutrition Facts panel. Choose foods labeled “low-sodium.” Often, the amount of sodium in the same kind of food can vary greatly between brands.

Here's a tip: Spices, herbs, and lemon juice can add flavor to your food, so you won't miss the salt.

What about Fat?

Fat in your diet comes from two places–the fat already found in food and the fat added when you cook. Fat gives you energy and helps your body use certain vitamins, but it is high in calories. To lower the fat in your diet:

Choose cuts of meat, fish, or poultry (with the skin removed) with less fat. Trim off any extra fat before cooking. Use low-fat dairy products and salad dressings. Use non-stick pots and pans, and cook without added fat. Choose an unsaturated or monosaturated vegetable oil (check the label) or a nonfat cooking spray. Instead of frying, broil, roast, bake, stir-fry, steam, microwave, or boil foods.

Keeping Food Safe

Older people must take extra care to keep their food safe to eat. As you get older, you are less able to fight off infections, and some foods could make you very sick. Be sure to fully cook eggs, pork, fish, shellfish, poultry, and hot dogs. Talk to your doctor or Nastaran about foods to avoid. These might include raw sprouts, some deli meats, and foods that are not pasteurized (heated to destroy disease-causing organisms), like some milk products and juices in the refrigerated section of the grocery.

Before cooking, handle raw food with care. Keep it apart from foods that are already cooked or won't be cooked, like salad, fruit, or bread. Be careful with tools–your knife, plate, or cutting board, for example. Don't cut raw meat with the same knife you will use to make a salad. Rinse raw fruits and vegetables before eating. Use hot soapy water to wash your hands, tools, and work surfaces as you cook.

As you get older, you can't depend on sniffing or tasting food to tell if it has gone bad. Try putting dates on foods in your refrigerator. Check the “use by” date on foods. If in doubt, toss it out.

Here's a tip: Make sure food gets into the refrigerator no more than 2 hours after it is cooked—whether you made it yourself or brought it home from a restaurant.

Can I Afford to Eat Right?

If your budget is limited, it might take some thought and planning to be able to pay for the foods you should eat. Here are some suggestions. First, buy only the foods you need. A shopping list will help with that. Before shopping, plan your meals, and check your supply of staples like flour and cereal. Make sure you have some canned or frozen foods in case you do not feel like cooking or cannot go out. Powdered, canned, or ultra-pasteurized milk in a shelf carton can be stored easily.

Think about how much of a food you will use. A large size may be cheaper per unit, but it is only a bargain if you use all of it. Try to share large packages of food with a friend. Frozen vegetables in bags save money because you can use small amounts and keep the rest frozen. If a package of meat or fresh produce is too large, ask a store employee to repackage it in a smaller size.

Here are other ways to keep your food costs down:

  • Plain (generic) labels or store brands often cost less than name brands.
  • Plan your meals around food that is on sale.
  • Prepare more of the foods you enjoy, and quickly refrigerate the leftovers to eat in a day or two.
  • Divide leftovers into small servings, label and date, and freeze to use within a few months.

 

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Eating Alone

Eating alone can be difficult for people of any age. It may not seem worth the effort to cook just for you. But there are ways to put the fun back into eating. Start with keeping your cupboards well stocked with nutritious foods that you enjoy. Studies show that when you eat with others, you tend to have an improved nutrient intake. So, sit down with some friends, family members or neighbours and enjoy their company while you dine. Treat yourself well; you deserve it!

Make it a pleasure

  • Create a pleasant place to eat. Set a table with flowers, place mat and napkin, even candles. Listen to music.
  • Sometimes moving to a different location or doing something else while eating is helpful. Take your meal out on the porch, sit near a window, go to the park for a picnic, watch TV or read a book.
  • Enjoy a dinner out in a restaurant occasionally. Ask for a “doggie bag” to take leftovers home.
  • Want a break from cooking? Try a no-cook meal, ready-made meals or other convenience foods.
  • Consider taking Meals on Wheels a few times a week or more.

Find companions

  • • Share a potluck dinner with a friend, or form a regular lunch group.
  • Start an eating club. The host makes soup and others bring bread, salad or fruit.
  • Join a collective kitchen or share cooking with friends. Find a place where a few of you can meet to plan, shop and prepare several meals together. Take those meals home, freeze them and pull them out when you don't feel like shopping or cooking.
  • Ask other seniors who are alone for ideas and suggestions, and share yours.
  • Exchange recipes.
  • Teach your grandchildren how to cook or bake.
  • Check your local senior or community centres; many serve weekly meals.
  • Beyond the nutritional benefits of eating with others, starting a supper club or joining an eating group can also help you meet new people and forge new friendships.

If you have lost your appetite for more than a day or two, talk with your doctor. Nastaran can provide food and nutrition information you can trust.

©2009 Dietitians of Canada. Reproduced with permission.

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