Like it or not, we get older as time goes on. No matter how hard we try to stop or slow it down, we will be seniors who are less active physically and mentally someday. Nothing exciting about it! Though, there are exceptions, as my dear insurance agent and I agree, like the eligibility of Medicare or a free senior pass to the national parks at age 65. Also, seniors may go thru a TSA pre-security line without taking off shoes or pulling out electronics at airports. (A newly created senior ID on a driver’s license or separate card would allow so in California.) You should look forward to 65. Other than those, we would unenthusiastically smile for senior discounts at restaurants, haircuts, movie theaters or amusement parks, etc. How about eating-food for seniors? 

In our eating environment, not many foods or menus are designated specifically for seniors. Seniors are often offered a half sandwich and soup at a family restaurant, as a senior discount. I would say nothing is a discount if it comes with less quantity. It must be an option to choose an offer of less quantity and less money for everybody. Regarding smaller portions, seniors often order junior burgers at a fast food restaurant, a good choice for a discount I think. In addition to the quantity, seniors are occasionally offered diet or “lite” food or a menu with less calories and often less cholesterol. Our seniors, without much choice, usually eat pizza, macaroni-cheese or fried chicken and leave some when feeling full enough.

For Asians, on the other hand, there seems to be a bit more options. A good example is rice porridge or gruel, which is a well-known senior staple for easy swallowing, not much chewing and good digestion. It is also a common menu item for those who are recuperating from flu or stomach upset. Its thickness varies depending on the total rice solid contents and also the condition of those who eat it. It looks rather like a mashed rice soup or chowder. No milk is added because of the lactose intolerance among Asians. You may see it at Chinatown in S.F. during breakfast time. 

Rice porridge is not a silver bullet, all-inclusive senior food but a staple with less calorie or less cholesterol, satisfying appetite and fullness of stomach. Other nutrients offering a good amount of protein, more calcium or vitamins would come from things to eat together like a raw or half-boiled egg or a light side dish of grilled salmon or warm vegetables. A combination of rice porridge and side dishes, which is omnivorous, offers good healthy eating for seniors. Two things have come to my mind. Firstly, it is due to the influence of the Chinese Confucianism, which is the basis of Asian values, for the respect of elder people. It was true when information or skill was transferred to younger generations only by the elders who were more experienced or knowledgeable for daily living. In this era of information, though, everyone knows everything by accessing websites, and elders or seniors are losing their values in society. Secondly, rice is a staple and available to make even with left-over rice. An additional cooking of rice and water in a pot can be easily done often without dismal work in the kitchen. Regular cooked rice for younger people and rice porridge for seniors are on the same table of multi-generation families. Rice has nurtured Asian families keeping them healthy and together.

At the later stage of aging senior foods like baby foods or formula may become an option. Supplements may help keep them going or rejuvenate, but not as a choice as food. In this aging market then, food manufacturers, retailers or restaurant businesses should pay a little bit more attention to senior consumers. Again there is no magic senior food and how to eat is a key for healthy, active or long living. Eating is a joy but it becomes a burden, two or three times a day. But we cannot stop eating. Senior foods or eating, well might be a new business chance.