Nursing Home Nutrition Regulations

Proper nourishment is essential for everyone, regardless of age or living situation. In a nursing home setting, strictly regulated nutritional plans and programs ensure that the food available consistently meets residents' needs.

Nutrition in Nursing Homes

Properly feeding residents entails many details that are overseen by nursing home kitchen staff and management. Teams must plan everything from food preparation to the dining environment to accommodate the needs of everyone working and residing in a long-term care facility. Nursing home residents need thoughtfully prepared meals and snacks to remain healthy. Nursing home dehydration and malnutrition are serious threats that staff must be vigilant to avoid. 

Nutrition Regulations in Nursing Homes - resident food choice

Nutritional Needs for the Elderly

Nutritional needs for the elderly differ from those of adults and children. Not having proper nutrition can lead to a wide variety of problems, including.

  • Low energy levels
  • Health problems that become chronic
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease

Both weight gain and weight loss are a significant problem with the elderly population and their nutrition. A metabolism that is slower and less daily activity can lead to obesity. Unfortunately, nutrition problems and obesity are on the rise in the elderly community.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, decreased appetites, medical problems, limited access to food, poverty, and limited income can cause weight loss in the elderly. A physician should see any older adult who loses over 5% of their body weight. 

Food and Nutrition and Nursing Homes

An older person is usually transitioning from independent living to a skilled nursing home because they can no longer care for themselves. Nutrition is a common factor here: the resident may not have been preparing nutritious meals at home. 

Nutrition Regulations vs. Resident Choice in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes have stepped up their game with serving nutritious foods. Many nursing homes offer multiple choices in food selection to the residents. The residents can choose what meals they would like served to them. If the resident is on a restricted diet, that will limit their options to some degree. Balanced meals and a variety of food choices allow the residents to have some control while still receiving proper nutrition.

Meals and Snacks

Meals and snacks should be offered at the same time each day. Your residents will look forward to these times for several reasons. The first is that they have adapted to the meal routine. The second is that many nursing home residents look forward to the socialization in the dining room. Each day, the dining room offers a place where residents can gather, socialize, and share nutritious meals.


As a long-term care facility, the quality of the dining experience is vital. Many of the residents are vulnerable and frail and may require assistance when it comes to food. These residents that need help at mealtimes are relying on the staff to provide drinks and meals. Other residents may be able to feed themselves but require guidance to eat and drink. Preparing healthy meals and serving them is a fantastic way to bond with residents.