“What the bloody hells a Pommy-granitt when it’s at home?“
I’ve been having some interesting discussions with my elderly clients lately – and it’s all about FOOD.
In particular, are the seniors who’ve realised it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the presence of all the bizarre, weirdly-shaped fruit & veg on trend and on display at the supermarkets at the moment.
With elbows leaned furtively on shopping carts they drift nonchalantly down the aisles, the majority with little idea what these new species are, what they ‘do’ or how to even peel one. Suffice to say, there’s little chance they’ll be cooking with them any time soon!
Off the top of my head there’s kale, pomegranates, avocados (the smashing of) and the phenomena known as “keen-wah” ie: quinoa – just to name a few that appear to be causing angst among my Over 70’s mob.
Advised by their GPs or concerned family members (and splashed all over the lifestyle mags)… that these peculiar so-called ‘Superfoods’ are packed full of disease-fighting goodies. And that by consuming these natural beauties, elders decrease the probability of developing chronic illness, rehabilitate faster if they do, and subsequently, increase their chances of living forever.
Which got me thinking that not only is it ‘technology stuff’ that an older adult is pressured to learn about and understand in today’s frantically progressive world.
It’s also about what we EAT.
Having grown up in arguably more frugal times (where food wasn’t permitted to be the obsession that it is now), it’s understandable why the mature-ager might find some of the latest meal trends confusing and intimidating. People are living for longer that’s true, but it’s a scientific fact that age-related health issues such as diabetes, stroke or heart disease (conditions that would have once knocked you off in your 60’s) are now being managed more efficiently, purely by what we stick in our mouths.
Unfortunately along the way… food over-sensitivity, allergies and intolerances have also become commonplace and it’s been a huge learning curve for many ‘old-school’ folk to not only embrace the modern ideals toward the food they eat, but to accept that their own health may be in jeopardy if they don’t.
Noticeable too, are the strange codes added to the menus of our favourite restaurants nowadays. Shown as GF, LF or V for example, these nifty symbols offer the dine-outer all sorts of solutions to their dietary dilemmas. Although they may baffle some who are afraid to ask and feel it’s easier just to stick their heads in their Vine-RipenedTomato, Roast Bell Pepper & Basil soup than have to ‘get with the times’ and figure it all out.
“No such thing as a Nut Allergy when we were kids. Oh, except when I first met my Douggie at the school dance – he was nutty alright!”
“How can being a Vegetarian be good for you? Eating too many greens… GIVES ME THE SQUIRTS!”
“Special Dietary Requirement? That’s me making sure I have a wine with dinner!”
“Not sure about this ‘organic food’ thing… in my day, it was just called FOOD”
“Gluten-free, you say. So, I have to eat less glutes?!?!”
Not to mention all the latest cookbooks encouraging us to replace the tried-and-true ingredients of our classic recipes with slinkier, nutrient-laden alternatives. Gone are the days where a lump of meat (“whatever’s on special, dear”) is bunged into the oven in a layer of lard with a wheelbarrow-load of salt tipped over it to enhance flavour!
Instead, poor old Mum, has had to haul herself out of her lifelong culinary comfort zone to produce such delights as a zucchini & feta fritter, organic eggplant fries and get her head around long lanky limbs of broccolini… steamed for 23 seconds (no-more, no less) for her son’s pretty, but pedantic Vegan yoga-instructor fiancee.
No longer can she happily enjoy the spitting of lamb chops as they fry unmercilessly on the stove top as she did in ye olden days either. Ah no! They must be eased gently under the grill and then delicately dabbed at repeatedly with a roll of triple-ply paper towels to ensure every last dot of oil has been safely extracted.
DON’T MAKE ME FAT!
She then has to skill-up on the magic of the ‘shop and chop’ – buying, and then dicing great sprigfuls of fresh herbs, fancy-schmancy spices and hearty wholesome marinades (please, no additives!) in the quest to present modern adaptations of traditional feasts to her fussy grown-up family.
Which can be bloody hard work when Mama has a dicky knee, arthritic hands and poor eyesight!
But, as a carer on the go, I do find it exciting and hugely inspiring when some of my tentative, yet inquisitively brave clients at least give it a go. Seizing this new ‘foodie’ adventure by it’s entrails and taking an active interest in managing their own health with all the exotic, albeit daunting-looking food choices they can now make.
And even more impressively – is the trendy cooking techniques they’ve learnt to whip it all together!
One of my clients, for example, 90 year old Bert Walloven is a lovely chap who nearly fell to bits living on just boiled egg & fish paste crackers, after his wife died last year. However, he pulled himself up by his apron strings and found new vigour in teaching himself how to bake Banana Loaf in a super posh bread-maker appliance he found at the back of ‘the wife’s’ pantry.
Every Tuesday afternoon when I visit Bert now, he insists I make time before I leave, for a compulsory taste test of a slice of his latest creation. Ahh yes, any excuse for a cuppa and a chat! None of your plain boring bready rubbish either – last week it was Pumpkin Bread with honey oat and cranberry chunks.
Interesting to note, I find the biggest motivator for my elders to climb aboard the Superfood train and include more fresh raw ingredients in their diet, is the possibility that it lessens the chances of them developing Alzheimer’s disease. Whether that’s true or only slightly true-ish… (and it can’t hurt) it seems many seniors, terrified of ‘losing their marbles’, will go to great lengths to prevent this from happening by doing whatever it takes to maintain the health of their minds.
Indeed, it turns out that you CAN teach a dog of more advanced years new tricks! It merely depends on whether the old Golden Retriever in question is willing (and open-minded enough), to give the tricks a go.
We all feel nervous when it comes to trying new things – of course we do! A fear of failure, feeling unsafe and exposed, or the big one… looking silly in front of others. And with this traditionalist Boomer generation, it’s understandable why they’d stubbornly opt to stay with the mindset that they’ve already made it through the obstacles of life; they’ve come through the War living on sausage meat and sawdust. They’ve acquired all the learning needed for survival so “there’s nothing more I need to know, thank you very much!”
A perspective that sadly means the ability to grow (and thrive) by learning new tricks and empowering themselves with new lifestyle choices that might just allow them ito live longer and live BETTER, gets lost in the despair and gloominess of ‘being old’.
Instead sitting in their recliners, watching life pass them by with a rug over their knees, and beans on toast or a mug of oxtail soup for dinner yet again, is as tricky as they can cope with. Now, shut the damn gate and get off my lawn!
Which, thankfully, is NOT the case for Bert and his Breadmaster 2000!
Lovely Bert informs me his latest project is a wholemeal caramel, apple & quinoa Pecan Loaf. And “just for fun”, it’s also going to involve (winkity, wink)… A RUM SWIRL.
Oh yes, roll on next Tuesday!