LGBT seniors will have a chance to dish on important nutrition tips at the LGBT Health Resource Center’s upcoming “Lunch & Learn” workshop. Chase Brexton Health Care nutritionist Tiana Matthews-Martinez will present “The Art of Nutrition: Are You Eating Your Rainbow?” on Thursday, July 13th from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the community rooms at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, Baltimore).

We grilled Tiana for a few tips on healthy eating and good nutrition.

What particular nutrition challenges might an LGBT elder face?

Many LGBT seniors suffer from chronic conditions such as HIV, decreased bone density, cardiovascular disease, depression or anxiety, and cancers, which occur for a number of different reasons. Often, LGBT individuals smoke cigarettes and suffer from drug addiction at a higher rate. Some are on multiple medications which can alter their appetite, affect food absorption, or create issues of weight gain, diabetes, and cholesterol issues. Many also experience a higher degree of food insecurity – as income often declines with advancing age, patients may resort to lower cost and possibly lower quality food. Additionally, cultural pressures within the LGBT community to attain a certain physical appearance may contribute to under- or over-eating disorders.

How can nutrition impact other health issues an elder may be dealing with?

Good nutrition habits can only help in the alleviation or management of chronic or acute health issues.  Poor nutrition on the other hand, can have many negative effects and can compound existing health problems, affect a person’s sleep, mood, energy level, bowel regularity, pain level, and the general sense of being that they feel. Additionally, some medical conditions such as gout and type-two diabetes can be often controlled through a person’s diet.

What are some easy ways that LGBT elders can improve their nutrition?

LGBT seniors can improve their nutrition by remembering to eat the rainbow – and I don’t mean Skittles! Fruits, vegetables, and various colored legumes have the phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and water which our bodies need to function at their best. Each color of the rainbow is like a magic wand that helps maintain your health in a different way. Make sure to speak with a dietitian or nutritionist for individualized recommendations.

What are some unhealthy foods that elders should particularly avoid?

It’s safe to say that foods high in sugar, saturated fats, and sodium are most likely to worsen health conditions in seniors. You’ll find these in snack cakes, chips, sweet tea/sodas, and boxed / bagged / canned / heat-and-serve meals – many of the things you’ll find in the middle aisles of the grocery store. The exceptions to this are whole grains, beans, and spices. It’s best to make most of your foods from fresh or frozen ingredients at home to control the amounts of these problem nutrients that you eat.

What do you hope attendees learn from this event?

No matter your budget, current health status, or cultural background, practicing good nutrition with moderate exercise can have great benefits to your overall health and wellbeing. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, flavorless, or outside of one’s cultural norms – we want to show you how to make it work for you!

For information and to register for the upcoming Lunch and Learn program, contact or call 410-837-2050 x1107.

The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care is to provide LGBTQ individuals and their families with welcoming access to expert health information and resources that will enhance wellness and quality of life. For more information,visit