Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 2): Foods for Elderly with No Appetite

Is your elderly loved one refusing to eat? Are you concerned that they are losing weight and have decreased energy? Are they experiencing difficulty chewing or swallowing?

It’s not always easy to know what to do when dealing with a senior who refuses to eat.

It can be a challenge to know what foods to provide them with to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need. After you have assessed their situation and narrowed down what may be causing your senior to have a lack of or reduced appetite, see article Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 1): 9 Reasons Why They May Not Be Eating, you can begin to plan what kinds of foods to offer. Some situations may call for soft foods, minced foods or even pureed foods. Other situations may call for certain nutrients or vitamins to promote heart health or increase energy or decrease nausea.

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Food ideas for elderly with no appetite/decreased appetite:

  • High Nutrient/Healthy Calorie Foods

Avocados, eggs, bananas, fish, meats, cheeses, vegetable oils, nuts or peanut and other nut butters.

  • Milk, Shakes & Smoothies

Use sweet fruit and full-fat ice cream or yogurt to boost nutritional content and flavour. If they’re feeling adventurous add some vegetables such as carrots or spinach to your smoothies! Drinking full-fat milk, chocolate milk and hot cocoa is also good.

  • High-Calorie Soups

Like smoothies and shakes, liquid calories are generally easier to consume for aging adults. Soups made with cream, olive oil and/or pureed meats and vegetables are amongst the most nutritious.

  • Finger Foods

Chicken nuggets, fish sticks, cocktail sausages, meatballs, cheese strings, raw or steamed veggies, fruit, dried fruit, toast, crackers and nuts are all great examples of nutritional finger foods. Enhance their toast, crackers or apple slices with cheese or nut butter. Don’t forget to offer their favourite sauce or dip to spice things up!

  • Salads

You can make a vitamin and mineral rich salad using a variety of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Enhancing their salads with meat, nuts, seeds and/or eggs boosts the nutritional value!

  • Protein Shakes

Or other high calorie nutritional supplement drinks such as Ensure or Boost. You can also add protein powder to their milkshakes or smoothies!

  • Herbs & Spices

Adding flavourful herbs and spices can perk up their taste buds. Try using curry, cumin, garlic, onion, turmeric, caraway or cinnamon to name a few!

This article is intended to give you ideas for nutritional foods to offer your elderly loved one who has a lack of or reduced appetite. If you are still experiencing issues with a senior not eating/not eating enough, use this link for ways to stimulate their hunger Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 3): 9 Ways to Stimulate their Appetite.

Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels provides and delivers fresh, nutritious meals to anyone who, by reason of age, physical or mental handicap or illness, cannot prepare adequate meals for themselves. We are able to accommodate special dietary requirements such as diabetics, vegetarians, pureed or minced diets and food allergies. To find out more about us, to donate, to see our menu or to register, visit our website

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