Senior Health and Fitness Day: Overcoming roadblocks to healthy eating

by Lori Wuellner

Wednesday, May 25, is National Senior Health and Fitness Day and the theme this year is “Improve Your Health for a Better Self.”

While there are many actions you can take for a “better self” healthy eating and physical activity are key ingredients. However those two important behaviors are not always easy to accomplish. For older adults there are often roadblocks to eating wisely. The National Institute of Aging has provided helpful suggestions to overcoming barriers to healthy eating…

Does food taste differently? Your sense of taste or smell can change with age. Medication side effects and other things also can affect those senses. Try using lemon juice, vinegar, or herbs to boost the flavor. See the recipe below that incorporates a variety of herbs along with citrus. Ask your doctor whether your medications affect taste and about food and drug interactions.

Do you have problems chewing food? People who have problems with their teeth or dentures often avoid eating meat, fruits, or vegetables and might miss out on important nutrients. If you’re having trouble chewing, see your dentist to check for problems. If you wear dentures, ask your dentist to check how they fit.

Is it sometimes hard to swallow food? If food gets stuck in your throat, less saliva in your mouth might be the culprit. Drinking plenty of liquids with your meal might help. Talk to your doctor about the problem.

Are you just not hungry? Try being more active. In addition to the other benefits of exercise, it may make you hungrier. Lack of appetite sometimes is a side effect of medication- your doctor might be able to suggest a different drug. If food just isn’t appealing, vary the shape, color, and texture. Look for a new vegetable, fruit or seafood you haven’t tried before.

Are you tired of cooking or eating along? Try cooking with a friend to make a meal you can enjoy together. Look into eating at a nearby senior center, community center, or religious facility. You’ll enjoy a free or low-cost meal and have some company while you eat.

For more ideas on healthy eating, read What’s on Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging, Visit for tips on physical activity and other useful tools.
(Source: Go4Life, National Institute of Aging)

Lori Wuellner is a Wyandotte County Extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, K-State Research and Extension, 1216 N. 79th St., Kansas City, Kan. Telephone 913-299-9300, email

Mediterranean Baked Fish
This dish is baked and flavored with a Mediterranean-style tomato, onion, and garlic sauce to make it lower in fat and salt.
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 can (16 oz) whole tomatoes, drained (reserve juice) and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
1 C dry white wine
1/2 C reserved tomato juice, from canned tomatoes
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C orange juice
1 Tbsp fresh grated orange peel
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
to taste black pepper
1 lb fish fillets (sole, flounder, or sea perch)

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Add onion, and saute over moderate heat 5 minutes or until soft.
2. Add all remaining ingredients except fish.
3. Stir well and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.
4. Arrange fish in 10×6-inch baking dish; cover with sauce.
5. Bake, uncovered, at 375º F about 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
Yield: 4 servings–Serving Size: 4 oz fillet with sauce
Each serving provides:
Calories: 177
Total fat: 4 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 56 mg
Sodium: 281 mg
(Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Stay Young at Heart)

Wednesday weather warms up

National Weather Service graphic
National Weather Service graphic

A gradual warming trend is expected through the remainder of the week with temperatures returning to near normal levels by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Most of the period will remain dry with the exception of Thursday night when a few scattered showers move into the area, the weather service said.

Today, after patchy fog in the morning, the day will become partly sunny, with a high near 66, according to the weather service. There will be a northeast wind of 6 mph.

Tonight, expect a low of 48 with partly cloudy skies, and an east wind of 6 mph, according to the weather service.

Thursday, it will be mostly sunny with a high near 69, and a southeast wind of 5 to 7 mph, the weather service said.

Thursday night, there is a 30 percent chance of showers with a low of 54, according to the weather service. An east southeast wind will be 5 to 7 mph. New precipitation will be less than a tenth of an inch.

Friday, the high will be near 70 with mostly cloudy skies and a southeast wind of 5 to 8 mph, the weather service said. Friday night, expect a low of 53.

Saturday, there will be mostly sunny skies with a high of 74 or 75, according to the weather service. Saturday night’s low will be around 57.

Sunday, the high will be near 77 with mostly sunny skies, the weather service said. Sunday night’s low will be 62.

Rain returns to the forecast on Monday, with a 30 percent chance of rain and storms and a high of 79, according to the weather service.