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"Healthy" Foods Your Aging Parent Should Avoid
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on January 20th, 2015

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"Healthy" Foods Your Aging Parent Should Avoid

assisted living  |  health tips for seniors  |  60-day stay trial  |  Aging & Caregiving

UMH_Eating_Healthy_With so many Americans committed to eating right, it’s not exactly surprising that food manufacturers are responding with more fat-free, sugar-free and low-sodium options than ever. However, distinguishing healthy foods from “healthy” foods can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to promoting nutritious eating habits for your aging loved one. These four foods may be less healthy than you think. 

Granola Bars

Granola is a healthy treat when eaten in moderation. This protein-rich snack is packed with oats, nuts and other good-for-you ingredients. But many granola bars are a completely different story; in some cases, the words “granola bars” and “candy bars” are nearly interchangeable. Why? Because most store-bought granola bars are shockingly high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. If you are trying to watch your aging loved one's calorie intake, granola bars may be part of the problem, not the solution. 

Fruit Juice

Going by the commercials alone, natural fruit juice is an essential part of any balanced diet. However, just because fruit juice is natural doesn't mean it's good for you -- particularly when so many bottled varieties contain minuscule percentages of natural juice and a heaping amount of added sugar. While fruit juice is acceptable in moderation, it’s always preferable to choose whole fruits instead. If your loved one's morning isn't off to a great start without a cold glass of OJ, consider making your own.

Breakfast Cereal

You can’t walk through the cereal aisle without being inundated with claims about each box's unique nutritional advantages -- from high fiber to vitamin D. But while cereal may be served up on tables across America as a simple, nutritious way to start the day, many are loaded up with artificial vitamins and minerals. Even cereals that parade as "healthy" options may contain a day's worth of your recommended sugar intake -- particularly troubling news for seniors with blood sugar issues. Opt for hot, whole grain cereals that have little or no sugar instead, like old fashioned rolled oats or plain instant oatmeal.


Yogurt is rich, creamy and delicious. Unfortunately, it can also be full of excess carbohydrates and sugar.  Not only that, but many processed versions come without probiotic benefits. Skip the flavored varieties and instead seek out organic Greek yogurt, which contains live cultures. If your aging loved one scoffs at the taste of plain yogurt, try adding fresh fruit, honey or peanut butter to satisfy a sweet tooth. 

In a perfect world, it would be easy to distinguish healthy foods from unhealthy ones, but with plenty of clever marketing tactics, it's not as simple as it seems. You can help your aging loved one make the right choices by paying careful attention to nutrition labels in order to determine whether so-called “health foods” offer real benefits or empty promises. 

Key Takeaways

  • Encouraging your aging loved one to eat well is only half the battle; the other half is distinguishing healthy foods from imposters.
  • Reading food labels is the best way to determine whether food is truly healthy.
  • When in doubt, avoid processed foods which typically lack the nutritional benefits of fresh, whole foods.


About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.