Articles and Information from GA Foods

Managing Diabetes in Senior Adults

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Nov 2, 2016 11:06:13 AM

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When caring for seniors with diabetes, it is important to focus on nutrition. A diabetic diet needs to be packed with nutrient-rich foods including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Having regular meal and snack times is also important in order to manage their blood glucose levels.

Since November is National Diabetes Month, now is the perfect time to discuss a consistent carbohydrate diet. This diet is one of the most effective meal plans for people with diabetes because it helps manage blood glucose levels, while giving seniors flexibility in meal planning. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy for metabolic functions and physical activities. Without them, the body cannot function.

Carbohydrates come in three forms: sugars, complex carbohydrates (starches) and fiber. It is important to understand the different types of carbohydrates in order to manage diabetes through diet. 

Sugars: Sugary carbohydrates are also known as simple or fast-acting carbohydrates. Sugar can be found naturally in fruits and milk, and as added sugar in desserts and refined grains.

Complex Carbohydrates:  Also known as starches, complex carbohydrates include potatoes, beans and whole grain foods such as oats, pastas and breads.

Fiber: Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate. It is found in plant foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Foods with high fiber content are part of a healthy diet, because they help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

To learn about meal service providers for seniors with diabetes, click here.

What is the necessary carbohydrate intake?

The National Academies' Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 45 to 60 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. This means that 900 to 1,300 calories should encompass carbohydrates for those eating a 2,000 calorie diet. Therefore, it is important to feed the body carbohydrates.

The necessary carbohydrate intake varies from person to person depending on age, weight, blood sugar and activity level. For example, seniors generally need fewer carbohydrates on a daily basis, as they are less active and their bodies metabolize more slowly. However, it is still important for seniors to maintain a consistent intake of carbohydrates in order to sustain their nutrient needs and regulate their blood sugar levels.  

Great ways to ensure seniors with diabetes are getting the correct amount and type of carbohydrates are creating a meal plan or using a food service provider that offers balanced meals. Having a set meal plan or using a food service provider also helps to avoid malnutrition.

What is a consistent carbohydrate diet?

A consistent carbohydrate diet is a meal plan that helps its users keep track of the carbohydrates they consume and stabilize their carbohydrate intake. The ultimate goal is to ensure every meal has the same carbohydrate count. This diet is effective for managing diabetes because it helps control blood sugar levels.

How does a consistent carbohydrate diet work?

When using a consistent carbohydrate meal plan, carbohydrates are counted in portion sizes (15 grams), also known as carb choices. The number of carb choices varies between individuals based on their health status, age or past eating habits. The number of carb choices also varies depending on whether users are eating a meal or a snack. Generally, meals should be between three and four carb choices while snacks should consist of approximately one to two carb choices. However, when caring for seniors with diabetes, individualized carb choice levels for meals and snacks may be necessary. 

How do I educate seniors with diabetes on a consistent carbohydrate diet?

Understanding how many carb choices foods have is the first step to being able to educate seniors on the consistent carbohydrate diet. Foods considered to have one carb choice include a slice of bread, a cup of milk or a small apple. For most manufactured foods, the carb choices are listed under the term "Total Carbohydrate" on the Nutrition Facts label. The “Total Carbohydrate" is listed in grams. Remember, 15 grams equals one carb choice. 

It is also important to read and understand the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. The “Total Carbohydrate” section of the Nutrition Facts labels is based on one serving size. Therefore, eating three servings is triple the amount of carbohydrates.

Providing seniors with a consistent carbohydrate diet is one of the best ways to manage their diabetes. If seniors do not feel comfortable with preparing their own meals, suggest a food service provider, such as GA Foods, that uses registered dietitians to plan the meals. Having the experts plan and provide the meals takes all the guess work out of the equation.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

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Topics: Senior Health, Diabetes, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Meals for Seniors

The Negative Effects of Added Sugar

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Oct 26, 2016 12:44:53 PM

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There are two different types of sugar – naturally occurring sugar, found in fruits and vegetables, and added sugar, which comes in many forms including granulated sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose and fructose. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. However, the average American greatly exceeds this maximum recommendation. Euromonitor, an international research company, revealed that Americans consume 126 grams (31.5 teaspoons) of sugar per day, which equals 101 pounds of granulated sugar annually!

Regularly consuming excessive amounts of added sugar negatively impacts the body’s ability to function properly, leading to poor health. This is especially true for senior citizens who have eaten diets filled with added sugars from a young age. Many seniors experience the negative effects of diets filled with excessive amounts sugar, as they find themselves struggling with diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Due to the fact that many seniors rely on pre-portioned, convenience foods, it is important to research home-delivered meal providers to ensure the meals meet all DRI requirements, including the recommended sugar requirements.  

Click here to learn the impact sugar has on the body.

Effects on the Body

Added sugar has no nutritional value. It offers nothing but high-caloric, empty calories. Every teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar consumed equals 16 calories. Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, says that the body can safely metabolize six teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, most Americans are consuming an average of 31.5 teaspoons (126 grams) of sugar per day. Excess sugar turns into body fat, and has been linked to many of the chronic, metabolic diseases people are struggling with. These diseases include, but are not limited to, obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

Obesity: The body stores excess sugar as body fat. This leads to weight gain, and can lead to obesity if excess sugar consumption becomes a repeated habit.

Cancer: The body uses glucose, a form of sugar, to generate energy. However, when too much sugar is ingested into the system, it can be dangerous. Cancerous cells feed on the excess sugar, which can cause tumors to grow.

Diabetes: After eating, the body converts food into glucose while the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose to get into the cells of the body where it can be used to make energy. With diabetes, the body may not make enough insulin, use the insulin in the right way, or both, causing blood sugar levels to be too high.

Heart disease: Consuming large amounts of sugar puts added stress on the heart, decreasing the muscle’s function and leading to heart failure and/or heart disease.

Dementia: Excessive sugar consumption also affects the brain. The brain responds to sugar in the same way it responds to other drugs, including cocaine and alcohol. Brain functions such as thinking, memory and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this energy source.

Steps to Take to Prevent Excessive Sugar Consumption

It is important to be able to understand the different ways sugar is added into food and beverages. Healthcare providers, Area Agency on Aging (AAA) networks and Case Managers are great resources when looking for home-delivered meals, as their primary goal is to provide nutritious, well-balanced meals to seniors. There are a couple steps to take to ensure regulated, added sugar consumption.

First, look for meal providers that offer low sugar products. For example, GA Foods’ meals are low in sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol. Partnering with companies that share the same values will make it easier to achieve the end goal, which is providing nutritious, well-balanced meals to seniors.

Second, check the Nutrition Facts label for added sugars. On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced updates to the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods. One of these updates was listing “added sugars” in grams and as a percent Daily Value. Package updates are not required until 2018; therefore, the added sugar information may not be on all labels. However, companies should be able to provide the breakdown of naturally occurring sugar versus added sugar in their meals if the information is requested.

When it comes to senior nutrition, regulating excess sugar is crucial. Simple ways to guarantee healthier food choices are partnering with home-delivered meal providers who offer meals low in sugar and understanding the Nutrition Facts label.

To learn more about the impact that sugar has on the body, download our fact sheet.

Download Our Sugar Fact Sheet

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Topics: Senior Health, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Age Well by Eating Well

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 28, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Proper nutrition is the key to aging well, and it has many health benefits. The vitamins and nutrients in food can help you fight diseases, boost your energy and help you sleep better.

For more tips on energy boosting nutrition click here.

Senior Nutrition

Many senior citizens don’t receive adequately balanced meals, which leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition among seniors is directly correlated to the increasing diagnoses of diseases in the senior population. It is very important to consume the recommended amounts of nutrients every day in order to help your body age well.

Good Nutrition Can Prevent Disease

Consuming natural, minimally-processed foods maximizes the body’s intake of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are necessary in order for the body to age well and fight against sicknesses and diseases. Multiple health studies have proven that some foods reduce the risk of, and may even prevent, certain chronic conditions. 

We’ve composed a list of the most common diseases among seniors as well as the healthy foods to include in your diet to help prevent them.

  1. 1. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is the No. 1 killer of Americans. If you have heart disease, it is recommended to limit the amount of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium you eat each day. A few heart-healthy foods include salmon, nuts, tomatoes and dark chocolate (made up of at least 60 – 70 percent cocoa).
  1. 2. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often referred to as the silent killer. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Foods that are high in potassium can help reduce your risk of hypertension. Some examples are bananas, potatoes and leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens and kale.
  1. 3. Diabetes comes in two forms, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin. With the help of insulin therapy and a healthy diet, type 1 diabetes can be managed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is a problem with your body that causes your blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle. Diabetic meals should be low in sugar and carbohydrates. Eating cherries, avocados and cinnamon are great because they are linked to reducing blood sugar levels. 

Benefit From a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consists of a balance between fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meat and healthy fats. Every meal you eat has the potential to help your body perform successfully. Aside from reducing the risk of diseases, the nutritious meals you eat can also boost your metabolism, improve your mood and help you sleep better at night. Eating an adequate amount of micronutrients including iron, omega-3 fatty acid and folic acid will ensure a positive food-mood relationship.

Make Small Changes

You don’t have to adjust your diet all at once. Start with small changes like switching from a sugary breakfast cereal to a whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Or, snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods like crackers and chips.

In addition to making small changes, set small, realistic goals to help you acheive your end result. If your end goal is to have as much energy at the end of the day as you do in the morning by three months from now, setting small goals such as getting seven hours of sleep every night, buying more fruits and vegetables when grocery shopping and drinking eight glasses of water daily are great starting points. Achieving these small goals will keep you motivated on your end result, and they'll improve your overall health.

Eating Well on a Budget

Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive. We’ve created some helpful tips for eating right on a budget. One way to stick to your grocery budget is to create a grocery list. Creating a grocery list ensures you won’t forget any items you need for the week, and it makes you less likely to purchase junk foods, as they are not on the list.

Eating healthy takes some planning. For more information on food swaps you can make to your diet to give you an energy boost, download our energy boosting nutrition tips sheet. 
Download Energy Boosting Nutrition Tips

 

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Topics: Nutrition, Malnutrition in Elderly, Senior Health, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition Care, Advice from Dietitians, Affordable, Healthy Foods, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Five Memorable TV Dinner Moments

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 7, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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September 10th is National TV Dinner Day, a day that celebrates the convenience of pre-portioned meals.

Since their inception, TV dinners have become a staple in American households. The prepackaged individual servings of meat and vegetables (and sometimes desserts!) changed the way Americans made and ate dinner. Women were no longer cooped up in the kitchen all day, and surprise dinner guests were no longer an issue.

In honor of National TV Dinner Day, we've compiled the five most memorable TV dinner moments:

1. The invention of the TV dinner

The invention of the TV dinner is attributed to a handful of different parties. While other companies may have invented the concept, C.A. Swanson & Sons coined the term 'TV dinner'. Take a look at the timeline:

1945: Maxson Food Systems, Inc. manufactured “Strato-Plates” complete meals that were reheated on planes for military and civilian passengers.

Late '40s: Jack Fisher created FridgiDinners – frozen meals served in bars and taverns.

1949: Albert and Meyer Bernstein created Frozen Dinners, Inc. – frozen dinners that were sold under the One-Eyed Eskimo label. Their dinners were served on aluminum trays with three compartments.

1954: C.A. Swanson & Sons created TV dinners – their version of frozen dinners. Swanson launched an advertising campaign to familiarize the public with TV dinners and sold them in retail stores, leading to the product’s success.

2. The first TV dinner meal – Thanksgiving leftovers!

C.A. Swanson & Sons’ salesman, Gerry Thomas, is credited with inventing the TV dinner. On his flight home, Thomas noticed the airplane meals were served on trays. He drew a sketch of his own version of the tray and suggested this concept to his company as a solution to their mass amounts of Thanksgiving leftovers. Swanson paired this idea with the biggest trend at the time, TVs, and thus TV dinners were born. The first TV dinners were sold in retail stores for a mere 98 cents!

3. The 1960s TV dinner expansions

1960: Swanson added a fourth compartment to their TV dinner tray so that consumers could have … desserts! A couple of the dessert options were apple cobbler and brownies. This addition really sweetened the deal for American consumers, as many homemade meals included desserts.

1969: TV breakfast was introduced. Now convenient meals were available in the morning as well.

4. The first Hungry-Man spokesman – “Mean” Joe Greene

In 1973, Swanson released Hungry-Man dinners, which had larger portions than their regular TV dinners. Professional football player “Mean” Joe Greene was the spokesman. Check out the commercial:

 

 

5. The ‘out with the old, in with the new’ decade – the '80s

Another memorable time for TV dinners was 1986 – the year of the tray. The original Swanson TV dinner tray made its debut into the Museum of American History in 1986 when it was inducted by the Smithsonian Institute. Also in '86, Swanson marketed the first microwave-safe trays. Microwave ovens were becoming a necessity in U.S. households, and with the introduction of Swanson’s microwave oven-safe trays, cooking TV dinners became easier than ever before.

In 1985, GA Foods furthered the impact of frozen meals with the introduction of our dual-ovenable meal trays. As one of the first companies to provide home-delivered frozen meals to seniors, we provided recipients the flexibility to select "what you want to eat, when you want it". 

Today's Frozen Meals

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While the meals are no longer referred to as TV dinners, the concept of frozen meals is still cookin’. In 2016, more than 60 years after the invention of the TV dinner, freezers in American households are still packed with frozen, pre-portioned meals. Frozen meals remain a popular food choice because they are easy to make, and come in a variety of options. And, with home-delivered meals from GA Foods, the meals are healthy and nutritionally-balanced too!

The familiarity of frozen meals provides the comfort of home, especially for seniors who have seen frozen meals from the beginning.

For more information on selecting a home-delivered meals provider click here.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Fresh vs. Frozen Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition, Healthy Meals for Seniors

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