Winter nutrition for seniors

Residents of long-term care and retirement homes need to always be mindful of their bodies, including their physical abilities, specific health care needs, and any other care requirements. A balanced diet means different things for different people. For one person, it may be known that excess salt is a potential health risk. Others may still be discovering what food fuels them best. Regardless of your personal dietary needs, a balanced diet is critical during the winter months. This is because it can be more difficult to exercise and get outside in unsavoury weather. Not only that, but a lack of sunshine can influence mood and energy, which can be supported with additional vitamins and minerals.

Here are a few ways you can meet your nutritional needs this winter:

Focus on vitamin and nutrient rich foods

It’s always important to maintain your fruit and veggie intake in the winter, which is why we plan ahead so meal plans can be built using in-season produce. Foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients can boost immunity and energy levels. In the winter, seniors can take advantage of seasonal root vegetables like yams, beet, and carrots. These vegetables keep for longer than greens and fruits and are high in fiber and carbohydrates, perfect for fuelling your body and keeping the winter blues away! These vegetables also freeze well, both before and after they’re cooked. This means that meal prep doesn’t go to waste, and any scraps and leftovers can be salvaged for soups and stews later.

For those who go on regular shopping trips, we recommend doing some shared shopping with your neighbours and friends within the community. A full bag of sweet potatoes might be hard to get through on your own before they rot, but if you split the bag with some neighbours and trade for some hearty carrots or beets in return, you can have a variety of fresh produce without having to worry about eating it before they expire.

Pack in extra citrus

Another key element to proper nutrition during the winter is citrus. Packed with vitamin C, citrus is helpful for your immune system during cold and flu season. It is also “in season” and fresher than berries and other fruits. Don’t worry, if you’re still a big fan of summer fruits, frozen options make a great replacement in baking, oatmeal, pancakes, and other recipes. Doing what you can to maintain a healthy balance of fruit and vegetable intake, even when you have to be a bit creative, will maintain your healthy immune system and give you the necessary energy to get through the colder and darker months.

Consider supplementing your vitamin D

It is important to have a thorough understanding of your body and its needs to effectively stay on top of your nutrition and health. During the winter months, vitamin D supplements can be a great way to maintain your physical and mental health with less sunlight and outdoor time. You should consult your physician for a more detailed approach to supplements, but consider them a great option to fortify your nutrition and vitamin intake and give your body the best chance at an active and healthy winter.

For more information about the experience of long-term care and retirement residences during the winter, and how to stay safe and active, go to