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By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 22, 2013

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With winter set to be one of the coldest on record, you’d think that soups, pies and hearty stews would be on tables of grandparents’ homes across Leek and Cheadle. But worrying new research shows that the region’s older residents are not always opting to eat hot meals and in some cases, are skipping meals altogether.

A new survey by Wiltshire Farm Foods, which delivers hundreds of meals a month to Leek and Cheadle’s homes, has revealed that two-thirds (69%) of people aged over 60 in Staffordshire don’t always eat a hot evening meal. In fact, 53 per cent sometimes skip a meal altogether with one in ten doing so up to twice a week.

Forty-four per cent say they sometimes choose a sandwich over a hot evening meal, 29 per cent would choose a salad and nearly one in seven (15%) say they sometimes just have a cup of tea rather than a meal. When skipping meals altogether, a third of over 60s blame lack of appetite while 18% say they don’t have time to cook. And while viewings figures for Masterchef and the Bake Off continue to go through the roof, when it comes to being in the kitchen, more than one in ten (13%) over 60s say they lack interest in cooking.

As we head into winter, Wiltshire Farm Foods is reminding residents how hot meals are often better for you than colder alternatives, while eating three meals a day is proven to keep your body warmer.

The science of eating a hot meal

The big cooking myth is that nutrients are lost in the cooking process. In fact, steamed vegetables and grilled meats are often better for you because the cooking process makes the food more easily digestible. Raw foods only start breaking down when you eat them, which is harder work for your body, but also means you won’t absorb as much goodness from the food. What’s more, eating three meals a day is actually proven to keep you warmer, as your body increases its temperature during digestion.

Gary Mundell at Wiltshire Farm Foods for Leek and Cheadle, comments “Grandparents are often seen as the pioneers of wholesome family meals, but just like everyone else, they sometimes don’t have time to cook or just don’t feel like cooking or eating a hot meal. But as we head into winter, it’s important to understand the nutritional benefits of eating a hot meal.

“If you’re struggling with appetite choose something like soup or prepare a smaller portion of casserole or hotpot rather than snack on a sandwich or cup of tea. If you find cooking a chore, stockpile portions in the freezer. This helps you resist the temptation to buy junk foods such as biscuits and crisps, which contain “empty calories”. This advice is even more important for residents over 75, as eating well in later life is the main way to keep your strength up during cold winter days.”

Wiltshire Farm Foods offers residents in Leek and Cheadle home delivery of more than 250 dishes designed by the company’s resident dietitian to be nutritionally balanced and easy to prepare. Customers can choose from mini meals through to full size portions, as well as hearty plates with low fat, low salt, vegetarian and gluten-free options available for residents with dietary requirements.

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