Senior Nutrition : Interview with Dara Young
Are you getting the fuel you need to age successfully?
There are many variables that can impact our longevity, and it’s no secret healthy eating is one of the most crucial elements of successful aging. Eating smart has the potential to prolong life, which is why it’s so important for older adults to make nutrition a priority, especially as they age.
According to the National Council on Aging, it’s important for seniors to eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Bright colors are a good indicator of healthy foods that are chock-full of the good stuff. It’s also important to eat high-fiber foods that are low in sodium. Healthy fibers include fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, oats and whole grains.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Vitamin D when checking your nutrition facts – this vitamin is crucial as we age. And remember to stay hydrated – try to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
A healthy, balanced meal should ideally include multiple food groups:
- Protein like lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- Low-fat dairy like milk or other alternatives
According to research, fresh food makes a significant difference when it comes to senior nutrition. If you live in a city like Salt Lake City, fresh produce is readily available. Local farmer’s markets, such as Salt Lake City’s Downtown Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park, sell fresh, affordable goods that will take your diet to the next level.
Locally sourced, artfully prepared
Much like the cuisine at The Ridge Foothill, we went straight to the source and asked our culinary services director Dara Young to share a little about the dining experience at the community. Dara is a dining expert who studied and trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas and has prepared cuisine for the University of Utah Hospital and The Grand America Hotel. She’s dedicated to her residents and committed to delivering a 5-star experience to all those who call The Ridge Foothill home.
Straight from the source with Dara Young, Culinary Services Director at The Ridge Foothill
Q: How do the dietary needs of seniors differ from people in other stages of life?
A: “With seniors, it’s best to avoid salt. Excess salt can cause high blood pressure or even low blood pressure. I don’t cook with salt – I like to use fresh herbs instead.”
Q: Where does the food served at The Ridge Foothill come from?
A: “Our produce is locally sourced from Muir Copper Canyon Farms and our meat comes from Palace Meat Co., which is family owned and operated. We’ve formed a partnership with them, which is why I’m able to substitute fresh herbs for salt, prepare everything to order, and provide our residents with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as grass-fed beef. It all really makes a difference.”
Q: How does The Ridge Foothill address dietary restrictions or limitations?
A: “Residents are given an assessment when they move in, so right off the bat we know if they have a serious allergy or restriction. Once they’ve moved in, we have a dietician come in monthly to ensure everything is going smoothly. We want everyone to be able to enjoy everything we prepare, and it’s been a fun challenge for me to find substitutes.”
Q: What are your favorite dishes to prepare?
A: “I like cooking creole, New Orleans, Cajun-type food. I also like to prepare Mexican food. I come from a wide cultural background, so I enjoy using different spices and different flavors.”
Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?
A: “Since I studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, I learned to prepare my dishes in a 5-star fashion. I’m used to fine dining and would say my style of cooking is more modern than most senior living culinary directors. It definitely aligns with the luxury lifestyle here at The Ridge Foothill and sets us apart from other senior living options in the area.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: “I absolutely love interacting with the residents, that’s a given. But I also really enjoy developing and training my staff. I just love being in the kitchen with them and being able to teach them what I’ve learned over the years.”
A dining experience that suits your taste
When evaluating whether or not a senior living community is the right fit for you or your loved one, the dining experience holds a lot of weight. It’s important to ask the right questions – does the community have a registered dietician? Where does the food come from? Is there a local farmer’s market nearby? Does the community accommodate allergies or restrictions?
When it comes to senior health and nutrition, it’s imperative to supply your body with the best fuel possible to age successfully and live a long and healthy life. At The Ridge senior living communities, our dining team is trained to help you do just that.