Serving locally grown fresh fruit? Suggesting maple syrup as an alternative to sugar? Cooking up jasmine rice instead of white rice? These may sound like some of the tactics of your local vegan restaurant, but they’re also ways that the elders at The New Jewish Home are benefitting from healthy innovations in nutrition.

Delayne Gratopp explains the hazards of sugar consumption on March 22, 2017 at SRN.

A recent wellness-oriented event at The New Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman campus in Westchester featured Dr. Delayne Gratopp, the Director of Functional Medicine at Scarsdale Integrative Family Medicine. Dr. Gratopp, a naturopathic doctor, discussed why we crave sugar and how sugar can affect people’s health.

She shared a number of useful tips that were well-received by the members of the community, staff and residents who attended the event, which was presented in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York. UJA-Federation is marking its centennial with a series of programs highlighting the outstanding work of its grantees including The New Jewish Home.

The hazards of excess sugar are part of a growing national conversation about healthy food.

A recent article in US News & World Report points out that improving the nutritional impact of meal options for older adults “serves not only to increase resident satisfaction but bolster health outcomes. While many residents are given supplements, such as for vitamin D and calcium, experts emphasize it’s still critical to get adequate protein and calories from food – and say nursing residents will have a harder time doing that if the food is blah.”

Sarah Neuman’s Director of Food and Nutrition, Blossom Hardy, attended Dr. Gratopp’s talk. Hardy explains that her team has already been putting similar wellness concepts into action to reduce the use of sugar for our elders and to ensure that they have healthier food choices.

The Sarah Neuman nutrition team emphasizes buying fresh, and where possible locally grown, fruit and vegetables and using flash-frozen fruits and vegetables when seasonal ones are not available; gradually reducing the pastry offerings; balancing sugar with proteins; providing honey and Grade B maple syrup for residents who are interested in using something other than sugar to provide a sweet touch; cutting out salt when cooking; and providing herbal teas as a healthy drink option.

Hardy plans to work on a number of further dietary improvements at Sarah Neuman that are in agreement with Dr. Gratopp’s suggestions, including replacing white rice with healthier jasmine rice, offering smoothies as a tasty and nutritious menu option, and reducing sugar intake by preparing more foods from fresh ingredients and relying less on conveniently packaged alternatives.

Hardy is also looking forward to offering special meals that highlight the new nutritional innovations, helping our residents and staff to appreciate how their diet can be improved.

On our Manhattan campus, Director of Food and Nutrition Joseph Elcik is also working on ways to make the food more appealing. His tactics focus on preventing weight loss, which is a key health concern for older adults. His team is increasing the amount of homemade food cooked right in our kitchen, using this ‘comfort food’ approach to encourage even picky older adult eaters to consume the meals they need.