Q. From the frozen pizzas in the freezer to the packages of hot dogs in the refrigerator to the bags of potato chips on the kitchen counter, I'd say my 82-year-old uncle is living in a nutritional wasteland. I also saw some fast-food wrappers in a trash can. It is no wonder his face looks so puffy and he has bags under his eyes - he's got to be consuming too much salt. How can we help him?
It sounds like a very difficult time for your uncle, and he's probaly not giving much thought to his diet as he deals with his life-changing events. Eating too many salty foods can create all sorts of health problems, including high blood pressure.
A lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium - it's not just the fries and chips. That's why the American heart Association/American Stroke Association is increasing awareness of sodium and the "Salty Six." It could be helpful to gently introduce your uncle to the "Salty Six" when you can find the right moment.
A look at several on the Salty Six list:
- Breads and rolls. Breads and rolls add carbohydrates and calories, but salt, too? It can be deceiving because a lot of bread doesn't taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. That's 15 percent of the recommended amount from one slice.
- Cold cuts and cured meats. Even foods that would otherwise be considered healthy may have high levels of sodium. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium.
- Pizza. High in cholesterol, fat and calories, pizza is plenty salty, too. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium, so two can send you over the daily recommendation.
Other potential culprits on the top six salty list could include poultry, soup and sandwiches.
The effects of aging and living alone can make eating nutritionally a problem. Why not encourage your uncle to seek assistance? His local Home Instead Senior Care® network office can provide a CAREGiver℠ to help him make healthier food choices, grocery shop and assist with meal preparation.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care®, contact Sharon Massafra at 203-386-1151 or go to www.homeinstead.com/307. For more information about sodium and nutrition, visit www.heart.org/sodium or www.heart.org/nutrition.