Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Aging and Eating Habits


liuzhou
 Share

Recommended Posts

This is inspired by a side comment on this topic around here.

 

The comment referred to the age of diners at a social gathering

 

 

9 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

The old folks want meat and veggies cooked to death, can't tolerate a lot of salt (salt is the most important flavoring agent, IMO), aren't interested in new to them dishes or ingredients, can't tolerate spices, and are generally unrewarding to attempt to cook for.

 

 

I replied that the old folks @Thanks for the Crepes knows must be different to those I know. Crepes took this to be self referential! I wasn't talking about me, a mere boy approaching his prime! I was, of course, referring to those much older, either in years or outlook.

 

What I should have clarified (although that would have distracted from the topic's purpose), is that in my experience, the elderly I know do not fit that description at all. Sure, many people tend to become more conservative as they age, but being conservative means sticking with the foods you grew up on or enjoyed in earlier times. I don't see them seeking "cooked to death" or saltless and spiceless etc. If they are accustomed to salty, spicy foods in earlier life they still will be. My 88-year old mother will still berate you if you don't season properly!

In fact, I tend to see the younger generations being more boring. My granddaughters regularly horrify me with Facebook tales of the garbage they eat for preference. I also meet a number of young people here who profess not to like "spicy", while their parents add more chili pepper. Maybe I just know strange people, but I suspect not.

 

As for me, as I gracefully sink into the sunset, I become more adventurous. I've had the luck to experience many different cuisines, but am still searching for more.

 

I still think those "old folks want meat and veggies cooked to death, can't tolerate a lot of salt (salt is the most important flavoring agent, IMO), aren't interested in new to them dishes or ingredients, can't tolerate spices, and are generally unrewarding to attempt to cook for" were always like that. Nothing to do with age really.

But, I'd be fascinated to hear other takes and thoughts to brighten up my dotage

Edited by liuzhou
typos (log)
  • Like 5

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we are neck and neck in the dotage sweepstakes and, like you, I find myself becoming ever more adventuresome in the way of food. I suspect it may because all others avenues of adventure are closed to me!  

  • Like 8

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Cyberider said:

The older I get, the more I want to spice things up.  Maybe my taste buds are getting numb?

 

Yes, that's an actual physiological thing. On the average, as we age, all of our physical senses tend to diminish in one way or another: visual acuity, reaction time, auditory frequency range, olfaction, taste, etc. I clearly remember getting on my dad's case over how much salt he would shake on his food.

  • Like 4

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@liuzhou, I'm guessing (and hoping) that TFTC was referring to a stereotype of a subgroup of older adults, one that's not without some justification; I remember CaliPoutine's topic about cooking for such folks. @liuzhou also is correct that earlier tendencies will usually continue into old age, with modifications if necessary. (For me, sad to say, it's cutting way back on the number of Scoville units I ingest.) My guess is that we're dealing with a bimodal distribution that to some extent reflects a similar distribution among non-older adults. People who are unadventurous, limited eaters tend to cluster around one mode; those who are more open and adventurous cluster around the other.

 

bimodal.png.636ea93ce432f2e28e438def27ca6c91.png

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the retirement complex where I cooked for a few months in the off-season, FWIW, the busiest night of the week was Friday when we offered steamed mussels. The house dietitian insisted on reduced-sodium recipes for most meals, but we made liberal use of herbs and spices to compensate. 

 

I've been encouraging my own mother to try different things, because she's in the early stages of Parkinson's and one of its effects is that it reduces one's ability to taste. My suggestion was that she might find enjoyment in flavors she'd considered too pungent when she was younger, and she's finding that to be the case (blue cheese was one of our first experiments). Just as an aside, some authorities in the field of gerontology advocate for the selective use of MSG in feeding the elderly, because it reaches the brain through a different channel and can help keep them interested in food (often a concern). I would presume that other umami-rich food and condiments with similar glutamates probably have the same effect. 

Edited by chromedome (log)
  • Like 3

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, Alex said:

Maybe my taste buds are getting numb?

 

Indeed our sense of both smell and taste* do tend to fade over time (as does sight), but that strikes me as a cue to up seasoning and spicing and not to retreat into further blandness as it was being suggested some people do.

 

* Don't forget that a huge part we perceive as taste, is actually smell.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am curious.  At just what age does one become 'elderly'.  I shall be 76 next month with DH at 77.  Are we elderly?  Not in our own minds.  But apparently in the minds of the young whippersnappers (love that word) we are.  We are evidently 'old', although much of the time that is hard to accept as a branding.   And I hate mushy vegetables.  So there.  :P

  • Like 4

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I vividly remember the day I was walking downtown, just drifting around seeing what was happening and picking up a bit of shopping, but nothing serious when something struck me.

 

I suddenly realised that almost everyone in the busy streets was younger than me, at least in appearance and I was confused as to why that might be. Where were all the people my age and older?

 

Then I worked it out. The vast majority of the people on the planet are younger than me. That was a shock realisation.

 

In my mind, I don't feel old at all. I'm told I still retain some youthfulness in my visage and outlook - and not only by my friends and debtors. I have to regretfully concede that the body is slowing down and two bad falls this year have seriously upset me both physically and psychologically. But none of this has even hinted at any lack of interest in what I cook or eat. My greatest pleasures are still the local restaurants, markets, my kitchen and tasting the results. Well, one surpasses those - serving my food to my dearest friends - but it's a rare pleasure these days. People seem to be getting more and more busy, running to stand still.

 

I recently had a restaurant dinner with a 20 year old (work related)  - in her mind I was old when she was born - and yet I could detect a lot more tastes in the food than she could - the benefit of experience and knowing what you looking for, of course, rather than some super power! We both enjoyed the meal, however and she has requested an invite the next time I am in the mood for social cooking.

I haven't detected any change in my ability to taste and I'm seeking new tastes and sensations instead of any drift to unseasoned, spiceless pap. Take me out and shoot me before that happens.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 12

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have to say that most, if not all said by liuzhou, holds true for both of us.  Bad falls?  Oh yes.  And now I never wear sandals anymore to comfort and please my DH.  

 

I was reading a novel recently in which the young heroine (in her 30s) takes her vacations at the same spot as her much older friends.  Her much older friends were in their 50s.  I gagged slightly.   The book went back to the library unread.  Well, not because of the age thing...it was basically just a piece of pap.  

 

As for our eating habits...they get more adventurous with each passing year.   Mushy vegetables be damned! :P

  • Like 1

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As others have stated, our senses of olfaction and taste can decline as we age (see ref), impacting nutrition and interest in food.

 

3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Indeed our sense of both smell and taste* do tend to fade over time (as does sight), but that strikes me as a cue to up seasoning and spicing and not to retreat into further blandness as it was being suggested some people do....

 

I can understand why this loss can encourage some to retreat to more familiar foods rather than explorations into the unknown. I lost my sense of smell for a number of years. For a long time, I lost my appetite and all  interest in food.  Why bother when I couldn't taste it?  Eventually, I put more emphasis on choosing foods that provided contrasts in texture and taste but I tended to stick with familiar recipes so I could rely on olfactory memories to "fill in the blanks" of the missing flavors that we sense through olfaction.

 

 

I'm ever so grateful that over the last 15 years, my sense of smell has slowly and gradually returned, not exactly to where it was, but to the point where I can try new recipes and enjoy new flavors.  I've always been one to enjoy trying new foods but I can understand how that interest could be tempered due to sensory challenges - due to aging or something else.

Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Anytime I choose to dwell on the vicissitudes of old age I remind myself of the alternative.  

  • Like 10

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice synchrony -- this video link was in my AARP e-newsletter today. It's more than a bit simplistic, but still.

 

With food and drink, as with other things in life -- athletics, relationships, expectations, etc. -- as we age, ideally we adapt to the reality of the current situation, aided by the (hoped-for) knowledge and wisdom gained over those years. For me, the main challenges have been smaller food portions, (a little) less wine, fewer carbs, and minimal late-night snacking. Not bad, really, as such things go.

Edited by Alex (log)
  • Like 1

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mom just turned 87. For years, she used to be known as "The Bloodhound" because her sense of smell was extra-ordinary. Though it's declined somewhat these days, she stills has a sense of smell. She can still detect when something in the refrigerator has gone bad and then spends an inordinate amount of time trying to find the source so she can dispose of it.

She doesn't eat as much as she used to (she used to eat a banana a day to help prevent leg cramps during the night...these days she can only eat a half of a banana). She doesn't cook like she used to anymore. I have a brother who lives in her area who comes over once a week to cook her dinner and then make "TV dinners" she can reheat in the microwave, or freeze.

 

My father smoked cigarettes for 30 years. When we would have our family meals he would literally blacken his food with ground black pepper or liberally douse it with Tabasco, so he could open up his sinuses and regain his sense of smell and enjoy his food. To this day, we "kids" are all chile-heads having copied his use of spices or hot sauces.

 

edited to change a "her" to a "he" .

Edited by Toliver (log)
  • Like 2

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have to wonder if the "old people only want meat and potatoes" idea is less about what all old people want, and more about picky people getting more assertive as they get older... rather than accepting a plate full of stuff they're  unexcited about eating, people realize that they're in a position to demand just what they want.  There are plenty of people of all ages with unadventurous palates... just not all of them will put up a fight about getting only what they want, and nothing else.

Edited by cdh (log)
  • Like 3

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, dcarch said:

Old is whenever you are on public transportation, and everyone offers you his/hers seat.

 

dcarch

 

I remember the first time some young lad, upon holding a door open for me, called me ma'am.  For a few seconds I wondered who he was talking to, which is when I realized that it was to me. :S

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may have seen it. A very recent report (a few days ago) detailed US population life expectancy profile by geography. Shocking that in some areas people are dying 20 years younger. Which means the definition of old can be off by 20 years, depending on where you live.

 

dcarch

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, cdh said:

Have to wonder if the "old people only want meat and potatoes" idea is less about what all old people want, and more about picky people getting more assertive as they get older... rather than accepting a plate full of stuff they're  unexcited about eating, people realize that they're in a position to demand just what they want.  There are plenty of people of all ages with unadventurous palates... just not all of them will put up a fight about getting only what they want, and nothing else.

 

 

Or more a generational thing. When younger, my mother and her friends thought TV dinners were an advance and Italian food was suspicious and foreign. Meat + potatoes + boiled to crap veg is what they wanted then and they carried that into old age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, gfweb said:

 

Or more a generational thing. When younger, my mother and her friends thought TV dinners were an advance and Italian food was suspicious and foreign. Meat + potatoes + boiled to crap veg is what they wanted then and they carried that into old age.

Just what generation is this???  ¬¬

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Darienne said:

Just what generation is this???  ¬¬

It very well could be 'the greatest generation'.  The one that experienced food rationing.  TV dinners came along in the 50's, which would be about right.

 

And Italians...get out of here with that stuff. ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, IndyRob said:

It very well could be 'the greatest generation'.  The one that experienced food rationing.  TV dinners came along in the 50's, which would be about right.

 

And Italians...get out of here with that stuff. ;)

@Darienne Indy Rob guessed it. Just pre- WW2 era folks.

 

I remember making some stock a few years ago. After hours of simmering I ate a bit of the overcooked meat on the bone.  Tasted oddly familiar.....It was my mother's pot roast!

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see patients in an adult (retirement) living place every other Friday.   Clinic is done at around 5 PM.  As I am leaving, I see vibrant and happy people having a drink and snacks in the lobby.  Various wines, cocktails, cheeses of the world.  Recently one of my patients requested an earlier appointment so they can get ready for their talk on Gruener Veltliner.  Their cafeteria smells good and there are full kitchens in the apartments.  Even assisted living floor has menus that are not boring.   I will try to remember to take a picture next Friday.  

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm on the board of a retirement community and nursing home. The place lured a chef away from a local fine dining restaurant. The meals he cooks for the board are great and are only a half step better than what the residents get (mainly because they are plated and not in a steamer table). The residents definitely appreciate the guy. His food isn't challenging but its not roast turkey with gravy either. Lots of seasonal stuff.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...