Older Adults and Eating Right


Eating Right for Older Adults Fruits & Veggies

Young & Free to Eat Anything at will –

When I was young one I ate only for taste. Nothing else mattered.

Restraints like Diabetes, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Obesity and worse were yet unknown.

Chocolates, Indian Sweets, Cheese, and Deep fried Puris and Indian snacks like Samosas, Vada, Pakoda were relished and eaten with abandon.

A cup of tea with 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar was the norm.

 Butter was applied liberally on bread. Ghee the Indian staple was always at arm’s length on the dining table to be poured on hot rice, and applied on rotis, idlis, and dosas.

My mother made us omelets with ghee so that we got the goodness of both eggs and ghee!!

 Youth..Ahhh a time when Appearance was Top Priority-

As I matured into teenage, my diet and eating habits were repurposed!

I ate to try and look a little less oily-faced, a little less of a sack and with a little less of a protruding tummy. 

I spoke to sisters, cousins, friends, and read up on how I can miraculously become “Fair & Lovely”JJJ!!

I thus reduced pastries, chips and drank water by the gallon to improve my complexion.  

I experienced first-hand the benefits of exercise as I discovered that by cycling the 6 km stretch between home and college – four times , first to go to college, the second time to come home for lunch,  the third to return to college post lunch and the fourth time to return home at the end of the day – I lost weight . It was like….. I just went to college and I lost weight.

The tummy had to be tucked and a friend told me that the toe-touching exercise will do the job. So I would try to do this exercise, many times over in the bedroom that I shared with my sisters when I had the room to myself.

 I would attempt to do so in the bathroom too but had to contend with the soap-dish or bucket coming in the way at times!

Middle-age dawned and so did high levels of HBA1c and pre-diabetes. I discovered rather late in the day that one could have ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol and also that I had more of the bad cholesterol.  

With the onset of middle age especially the late forties to mid-fifties testing became more frequent and the not-wholly satisfactory results necessitated diet and other life style changes.

For some years I replaced sugar with sugar substitutes like Equal, but once I touched sixty, I went completely sugarless with beverages like Tea/Coffee and Milk           

Current Typical Menu 

Early Morning before Tea

  Ø   Standing Water of Fenugreek Seeds soaked overnight

  Ø  Tea without Sugar

  Ø  A Tablespoonful of Green Gram Sprouts 

In between Morning Tea & Breakfast  - 

  Ø   4 Raw Almonds Soaked in Water overnight (If forgotten to soak, enjoy roasted Almonds) and 4 Walnuts soaked in water overnight 


  Ø  Gruel or thin Porridge of Ragi (Finger Millet) Flour followed

  Ø  Ragi Dosa  with Chutney.The Chutney could be coconut Chutney /Tomato Chutney/Onion Chutney 


Ø  Foxtail Millet preparation as substitute for Rice

Ø  Dal/Sambar

Ø  Vegetable

Ø  Salad of Cucumber & Carrots

Ø  Dessert – Fruit or sweet made of Sesame (Til) & Jaggery ie Sesame Laddu 


   Ø  Coffee without Sugar

   Ø  6 to 8 Pistachios or a couple of Digestive Biscuits


  Ø  Roti/Chapathi(Indian Bread) with Vegetable/ Lentil

  Ø  Curd with /without Rice

  Ø  Fruit. Usually a Banana or an Apple or Orange. I have been advised that Fruit is to be eaten on an empty stomach and not in the night .But as they say ‘Old Habits die hard’ and sugar-deprived me so looks forward to this after-dinner fruit.


Before Bed

      Half a glass of milk

 Diet Changes made with the onset of Middle-age & the Sixties

v 555Significant Increase in intake of Millets. Benefit for me- Lost Weight, Sugar Levels lowered.

v 666Significant Decrease in intake of Rice Benefit for me Lost Weight, Sugar Levels lowered.

v 6666Drastic Reduction in intake of White Sugar by restricting sweets, chocolate ang going in for sugarless beverages-  Benefit for me – Lost Weight, Less of Toothache and dental problems

v -aaRegular Intake of Salad of Cucumber & Carrot. Benefit for me – Better bowel movement, constipation almost became a thing of the past. Bonus Point ..Better skin…at 61 years..Yes!

v  66Halved consumption of Tea & Coffee – from 5 to 6 cups per day to 3 cups- Benefit for me-   Better skin. Saving money on expensive Instant Coffee

v +++ Added Nuts, Olive Oil, Green Gram Sprouts to diet as per recommendation of my doctor

v ± Replaced Refined Sunflower Oil with Cold-pressed Groundnut Oil and Olive Oil

v ± Replaced Store-bought Flour (Wheat/Finger Millet/Ragi) with flour ground in local mill  Benefit for me –More fibre, one of the contributors to my chronic constipation being tackled

v ± Replaced topping salad topping. From Salt & Pepper changed to Apple Cider Vinegar

v +++ Enhanced Cinnamon Intake for better control of blood sugar level - Recently I have learnt of the benefits of Cinnamon for controlling blood sugar. It is relatively easy to include Cinnamon in one’s diet. Cinnamom can be powdered in a small mixie jar and stored in an air-tight container, The powder can be sprinkled on salads or pieces of fruit. A

Alternatively cinnamon powder can be dissolved in warm water and gulped up. On days when I forget to sprinkle , I take the latter route.

 v Bitter Gourd & Ash Gourd drink – Bitter Gourd in any form is also recommended by doctors for diabetics. When only bitter gourd is to be drunk, the bitterness is too much and quite undrinkable for many. One way to offset the bitter taste is to include a few pieces of Ash Gourd to the bitter gourd and make the drink. Ash Gourd juice has also been recommended for it can play a part in reducing stress, maintaining a healthy heart, weight loss, and  in helping digestion. A half glass of a drink of bitter gourd-bottle gourd  juice has been a recent addition to my daily intake,

Source - https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/food-wine/health-benefits-of-the-lauki-5245683/


Ragi (Finger Millet) Gruel or Kanji/Ambili

Ingredients –

·       Water – 300 ml

·       Ragi Flour – 2 Tablespaoon

·       Salt – 1/8 teaspoon (Lesser the Better)

·       Curd – 2 Tablespoons


In a shallow vessel or pan, bring the 300 ml water to boil with the salt.

Make a thin paste of the 2 Tablespoons of Ragi Flour in Water. There should be no lumps however if small sticky lumps can form easily.  Break any such lumps with your fingers and make a smooth watery paste of the ragi flour and water.. Lower the flame and add the ragi flour paste to the boiling water, stirring all the time. Let the mixture simmer for 3 to 4 minutes..more if you prefer a thicker consistency  Beat the curd in a small bowl or glass and add to the ragi mix. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

NB – Ragi Gruel/Porridge  with curd and salt and no sugar/jiggery is for diabetics.

Ragi Porridge can also be had with milk and sugar/jiggery instead of curd/butter milk of one does not issues of high blood sugar or other reasons for not consuming milk or sugars.

Ragi Dosa


·       Urad Dal - 1 Cup  to be soaked for 8 hours minimum or Overnight

·       Fenugreek/Methi Seeds -  1 heaped teaspoon to be soaked with Urad dal

·       Ragi Flour – 2 Cups

Grind the Urad Dal the next morning with the fenugreek seeds to a fine, frothy paste.

Mix the ragi flour with water to a watery paste and gradually add the ragi flour to the Urad Dal stirring all the time.  You can add some more  water to get the consistency required for making dosas. Allow the Ground Urad Dal & Ragi Flour mix to ferment for about 8 to 10 hours. Thereafter Dosas can made immediately or the batter can be refrigerated and used as and when required to prepare the dosas.So if you soak the Urad dal overnight, you would have ground the dal the next morning. The Mix would be ready in the morning. You can allow it to stand and ferment until evening say 5 or 6 pm. In Summer time as the temperaute  is high fermentation may take place sooner.

Variation – Can make more crisp if little less healthy dosas by adding a 2 to 3 couple of Tablespoons of Rice Flour to the batter .Add along with ragi, let it ferment, store and use to make dosas.

Foxtail Millet substitute for Rice (Serves One)


·       Foxtail Millet – 1/3 Cup

·       Cinnamon – 1 small piece

·       Cumin Seeds – ¼ teaspoon

·       Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch (Optional)

·       Salt – to taste

Soak the Foxtail Millets in about 1 cup of water for half an hour. Strain the water, add turmeric powder, salt, cumin seeds and 1 cup water ie three times the quantity of millets and pressure cook for about 5 minutes. The cooked foxtail millet can be had with Dal (lentils), vegetables, curd instead of rice.

Black/White Sesame Seed (Til) -Jaggery Balls/Laddu


·       Sesame Seeds – 1 measure

·       Jaggery – 1 measure

Dry roast the sesame seeds in a thick pan until you can smell a nice aroma.

Let the roasted sesame seeds cool down

In a dry mixie grind the sesame seeds first. Then add the jiggery.

When the mix is ground to a coarse powder, remove from the mixer-grinder on to a plate.

Shape the still warm mixture into small laddus.

Green Gram Sprouts


·       Green Gram – 2 Tablespoons

Soak the Green Gram in boiled & cooled water for about 8 hours, say through the day. Strain the water. Take a small square piece of cotton /muslin cloth. Wet it using boiled water. Place the wet green gram in the piece of cloth and tie it up in a small bundle. Place the same in a box or plate, preferably close to an open window overnight..

By early morning fresh green gram sprouts are ready for consumption.

Final Points –

All the above diet changes are being followed by me and I have seen positive changes as mentioned.

In few words diets for seniors have the following guidelines

·       Less Added Sugar

·       Less Oil/Fat

·       Less Salt

·       More of Whole Grains & Less of refined processed ones

·       More of plant based foods and less meat. Fish is more healthy than chicken or meat.

MOST IMPORTANT - Although dietary adjustments are required it does NOT mean that you cannot ever have the foods you like occasionally. A breakfast of Puri-Potatoes once a month is okay. A slice of chocolate cake, a dry fruit laddu, pakodas, ice creams are Not to be shunned. But to be taken rarely or on occasions!

Wishing my fellow Seniors, Happy Healthy Eating!



Most Read

9 Key Facts on Income Tax in India that You Should Know About

Female Urinary Incontinence: Medical Condition Affecting Elderly Women-Causes & Treatment- Contributed By Dr. Anuradha Manoharan MBBS, MD (Obs and Gyn) FRCOG

Enhancing Mental Wellness in Older Adults by Dr Vani Rao, MBBS, MD**