Benefits of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating means choosing foods and beverages that have the nutrients needed for health and wellbeing. Healthy eating can look different for each person. Tastes, culture, health, and goals affect food choices. Cooking and shopping abilities will also affect food choices.
Eating well can decrease risk of illness and improve energy levels and mood. Foods recommended within Canada’s Food Guide (click here to visit) are appropriate for all adults, including those living with dementia. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating vegetables, fruits, low-fat protein foods, especially plant-based proteins (e.g., beans, lentils, tofu), and whole grains (e.g., whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal).
The Mediterranean diet and the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet have also been studied for their effect on thinking abilities and prevention of dementia. These diets may improve brain health and lower dementia risk. Just like Canada’s Food Guide, these diets suggest eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. They also recommend regularly eating fish and seafood, lean meats, olive oil, and berries. The Brain Health Food Guide is another diet that is based on the research of specific foods that may improve thinking abilities.
There is no research yet about the effects of the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet, or the Brain Health Food Guide in people living with dementia. Still, it is reasonable to think these diets may support thinking abilities in people living with dementia, too.
Combining the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide with the Mediterranean diet, MIND diet, and Brain Health Food Guide may result in health benefits. Canada’s Food Guide recommends the proportion of your meal (or plate) that should be made up of different food groups. Specifically, it recommends making ½ of your plate vegetables and fruits, ¼ of your plate plant-based or lean, protein-rich foods (e.g., low-fat dairy, chicken, fish), and ¼ of your plate whole grains. It also recommends making water your beverage of choice.
This video titled “Eating Healthy Helps Me Live Well with Dementia” talks about some of the benefits of healthy eating experienced by people living with dementia. This video was produced by the DREAM Team.
DREAM Handout: A Guide for Healthy Eating and Drinking
This handout shares ideas to help people living with dementia and care partners make healthier food and beverage choices.
Dementia-inclusive mealtimes mean that people living with dementia are included, respected, and supported during mealtimes. Mealtimes include preparing, eating, and cleaning up meals.
Dementia-inclusive mealtimes help people living with dementia to experience the nutritional, social, emotional, and mental benefits of healthy eating. Dementia-inclusive mealtimes promote connection between people living with dementia and family, friends, and care providers. This is done by learning more about personal abilities, needs, and preferences so that mealtimes honour the choice and independence of people living with dementia.
This video titled “Eating Together Brings Me Joy with Dementia” discusses how small supports and adaptations can help support inclusion during mealtimes. This video was produced by the DREAM Team.
DREAM Handout: Strategies for Mealtime Challenges
This handout describes some mealtime challenges that may be experienced by people living with dementia, and strategies to overcome them to make mealtimes successful and enjoyable.
Supporting Healthy Eating
DREAM Handout: Strategies to Support Healthy Food Choices
This handout shares ideas to help people living with dementia and care partners learn strategies to access healthy food.
DREAM Wallet Card: Nutrition Facts Table
This foldable resource helps people living with dementia and care partners make informed choices while choosing foods and beverages.
The DELIGHT program was developed to support the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and family and friend care partners. The DELIGHT healthy tip sheets give information and strategies to help people living with dementia live well.
This document from the Alzheimer Society outlines tips and strategies for people living with dementia and care partners at mealtimes.
Eating and Drinking
This document from the Alzheimer Society describes common challenges that people living with dementia may face while eating and drinking, and provides tips for care partners to use for support.
KCI-NIWESQ Native Women’s Association of Canada Magazine (Issue #10)
Issue 10 from the KCI-NIWESQ Native Women’s Association of Canada Magazine discusses healthy eating, connection to land, and food access.
Recipes from Canada’s Food Guide
This webpage from Canada’s Food Guide provides healthy recipes for Canadians of all ages.
Recipe Resource for Healthy Aging
This webpage from the Research Institute for Aging provides recipes for healthy eating and aging, specifically for community-dwelling older adults.
Indigenous Recipe Collection
This resource provides 12 indigenous recipes and stories with tips from the cook.
Serving Country Food in Government-Funded Facilities and Community Programs
The Government of Nunavut offers advice on serving country food in government-funded facilities and community programs.
Hunting in Canada
Angloinfo offers information on hunting in Canada.
Dementia-Inclusive Healthy Eating and Mealtimes
DREAM Wallet Card: People with Dementia
This foldable resource is to help people living with dementia to communicate personal abilities, experiences, and preferences. This may help community service providers to understand and adapt their program appropriately.
DREAM Wallet Card: People with Memory Challenges
This foldable resource is to help people with memory challenges to communicate personal abilities, experiences, and preferences. This may help community service providers to understand and adapt their program appropriately.
Nutrition Risk Support
People who eat healthy are less likely to have health-related challenges due to their diet. Nutrition risk occurs when people do not eat the right amounts and types of food, or have challenges that affect their ability to eat. If nutrition risk is not recognized early, it may lead to malnutrition. Low food intake, unintentional weight change, weakness, fatigue, and/or increased length and frequency of infection can be signs of nutrition risk or malnutrition. If nutritional health is a concern, individuals should connect with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for nutrition risk screening.