Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

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Eating habits change as people age. Your calorie intake will probably decrease, and your nutrient needs will mostly stay the same with the possibility of an small increase. Eating nutrient-rich food will help you get the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need. Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent.

Body changes come with age. One thing that slows down is your metabolism. This is a natural change but if you don’t exercise as much it becomes harder to burn as many calories. Everydayhealth.com explains that most women on average need about 1,800 calories per day and most men on average need 2,300 calories each day. Another body function that will likely change is your digestive system. As you age, your body produces less of the fluids that it needs to process food in your digestive system. These changes can make it harder for your body to absorb the nutrients that your body needs. Another big thing that might change when you get older is your appetite. Many seniors take medications for health conditions that comes with side effects such as lack of appetite or upset stomachs that can lead poor nutrition habits. [1]

Focusing on the right foods will help you stay on track and help maintain your health. While grocery shopping, make sure you read the nutrition facts label. The healthiest foods are whole foods. Healthline.com has some recommendations on nutrient dense foods that are good to consume. These include, fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Something else to take into consideration is making sure you eat enough fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and should be included in every meal. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to make everything from scratch and rely more on convenience foods, choose the healthiest options. Some examples of those would be, frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables, precooked grilled turkey or rotisserie chicken, low sodium canned soup, and instant oatmeal. Staying hydrated is key. Making sure you’re drinking fluid on a regular basis will help you stay on track.

Knowing what a healthy plate looks like is important too. According to the National Council on Aging, a healthy plate is a colorful plate, which means it’s full of nutrients. A healthy meal includes lean protein, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Remembering to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium are important to. Another essential is adding some Vitamin D in your daily meals. To maintain a healthy weight, its important that you eat the right amount of food for your age and body. [2]

Another thing to look out for when changing your diet is your medical conditions. As you age, you become more vulnerable to chronic health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, you should focus more on eating foods that are rich in nutrients, but low in excess calories, processed sugars, and tans fat. As you age you also might become more sensitive to foods. Some common foods that seniors become more sensitive to are onions, peppers, dairy products, and spicy foods. [3]

One last important part of making sure you keep with a healthy diet is staying social. Losing a loved one can affect your daily eating habits. If you feel depressed you are less likely to have an appetite. When you eat, try to eat with friends and family as much as possible to make mealtime enjoyable.

[1] http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/understanding/diet-and-aging-gaining-a-nutritional-edge.aspx

[2] http://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-eating-for-seniors#agerelated-changes2

[3] https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/benefits/food-and-nutrition/senior-nutrition/