Seniors & Healthy Eating II: Combating the Challenges with a Chef’s Touch
Written By Laurent Vals for Time 4 Seniors
First, I would like to thank Doug Wood at Time 4 Seniors for allowing me to write an article about the importance of healthy and nutritious food for our seniors. My name is Laurent Vals, and I have been a chef for over 30 years. I am the owner of Chefs for Seniors, a first of its kind franchise dealing with resolving our seniors’ eating issues.
Eating healthy food has been at the forefront of the news for several years. And for good reason. There has been an alarming increase in obesity and its inherent problems including diabetes, heart disease and other diseases that are diet related. The culprit is, I believe, what I would call low-quality meals that contain too much salt, sugar, and preservatives. Plus, they have few, if any, nutrients.
Seniors are not the only group challenged with eating nutritious meals. The disabled and veterans often face the same problem. Getting nutritious meals fitted to their, preferences, diets and needs is a constant issue. The quest for healthy and nutritious meals is met with numerous challenges. I’d like to add to what Doug shared last week:
1. Affected groups
Seniors, veterans, the disabled, and others don’t always have the ability to prepare and cook meals on a daily basis.
People recovering from surgery, accident or illness can’t always cook for themselves and may have little energy to even eat.
3. Lack of motivation
As a chef, I love to cook, but many people don’t like to or simply don’t know how. For these individuals, it is easier, as a matter of convenience, to throw a frozen meal into the microwave. Most fast foods, though, whether the fresh or frozen, are low in quality and don’t have the right amount of nutrients. The same is true for snack foods. There’s a reason it’s called junk food.
4. Depression or disease
The lack of motivation may not come from a physical disability but a lethargy caused by the loss of a spouse, friend or sibling. Diseases like Parkinson’s or dementia will also have an effect on one’s motivation and the ability for cooking.
5. Grocery shopping
Not being able to drive or have someone drive for them, increases the difficulty to go grocery shopping for fresh ingredients. I cannot argue with the convenience of fast food or frozen meals. But more often than not, they have little nutritional value. As a professional chef, my opinion of these meals is mostly negative. Usually, they are not prepared with quality ingredients, nor are they appropriate for most diets.
6. Dietary changes and restrictions
As we age and our bodies change, so do our tastes and needs. Many no longer have the tolerance to eat their favorite foods. Once their appetite changes, the motivation to cook diminishes.
7. Preference to stay home
A 2015 study by Genworth concluded, among other findings, that roughly 89% of seniors wish to remain in their homes. With this in mind, there needs to be a service that will enable the elderly to remain independent and still get nutritious food made with fresh ingredients.
This preference was the genesis for Chefs for Seniors. Our goal is to serve the elderly and others who either do not want to leave home or physically can’t. Our service provides, in advance, a week’s worth of affordable meals prepared in the client’s kitchen using the freshest ingredients, giving the client an enjoyable experience. The Chef shops, cooks and cleans up in about 2 1/2 hours. Menus are fully configured to the client’s individual preferences and dietary constraints. Here are the advantages Chefs for Seniors provides:
1. Customized meal plan
The meals our chefs prepare will meet the client’s preferences, diet, and any other restriction Every meal is guaranteed to be nutritious, consisting of proteins, healthy tasty sauces, starches and vegetables. Each meal can be stored in microwaveable containers in the refrigerator or freezer.
The service is executed weekly or biweekly. While the chef is cooking, the client is encouraged to chat and watch their chef perform. A relationship between the chef and the client is built through this interaction.
Affordability is where Chefs for Seniors makes a big difference. Our service fills the gap between expensive full-time private chefs and frozen meals that are neither healthy or nutritious. Our chefs, in a fraction of the time, prepare fresh delicious meals that will last the client a week. This is much more affordable than employing a full-time chef for a 40-hour week.
I am very excited to bring this concept to the Woodlands area. As a chef, I look back at my career and realize that everything I have accomplished in the hospitality and food industries has prepared me for this opportunity. I take great pride in ensuring that seniors, veterans and the disabled will daily receive fresh healthy meals.