Food and Our Overall Wellbeing - Meet Chef Zander Dixon
Health, wellness, and food are among the most popular categories receiving national attention. June is the National Month of Dairy (and dairy alternatives), fresh fruits and vegetables, iced tea, and even candy! Joining in on the fun are people officially celebrating steakhouses, soul food, country cooking and more this month.
When it comes to eating and aging, Colleen Tewksbury, registered dietician nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Philadelphia said, “What works for you in your twenties won’t necessarily work for you in your fifties. As you age and evolve, so do your health and nutrition needs. It’s important to eat right for life.”
With good food and health in mind, we sat down with Alexander “Zander” Dixon, Catholic Eldercare Executive Chef, to learn more about his thoughts on healthy eating and the way mealtime supports overall wellbeing.*
Q: As a previous restaurant owner, you have a long past with food. How do you think food impacts overall health?
A: Food is the first and best medicine a person can choose to stay healthy. If people choose foods that support their health and wellness while younger, they can avoid many issues as they become older. Preparing fresh non-processed foods from scratch can provide active time that is also good for the body.
Q: What trends are you seeing today that support healthy eating?
A: The availability of fresh unrefined and organic foods and the growing popularity of plant-based diets. When most of your calories come from plants rather than animals, you are supporting good gut and heart health.
Q: What are a few simple steps older adults can take to ensure they are eating healthy?
A: These can be beneficial:
- Drink plenty of water, consume less sugar, white flour, and processed grains.
- Choose chicken or fish over red meat.
- Eat 4-5 smaller meals on a regular schedule rather than 3 large meals.
- Eat only when hungry unless you need to gain weight.
Q: You’re working as Executive Chef in a long-term care setting today. How is healthy eating incorporated into menus for the people you serve?
A: At Catholic Eldercare we off a 5 week menu plan that provides great variety, is nutritionally balanced, and reflects the dietary needs of our residents according to the latest established guidelines. We select menu items that come from the cultures of all our residents as much as possible so everyone will feel at home with familiar foods that provide comfort and nutrition.
As we emerge from the pandemic, residents are beginning again to dine with their friends in a social setting. Being able to be with others and share comradery while eating is an important aspect to good digestion and overall health. Time spent experiencing the pleasures and benefits of good food with friends feeds the body and soul.
Here’s to good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of every age.
*Portions of this interview were edited for space and clarity.