Healthy eating is important at any age. But, did you know that some nutrition choices help older adults stay independent and active? Following healthy eating recommendations will also save you money and time spent at the doctor’s office.
Many of us know some healthy eating tips. We know that it is important to eat fruits and vegetables and avoid certain foods that are bad for our health.
As we age, the definition of healthy eating changes slightly. Our bodies need more of certain nutrients, and our metabolism slows so we require fewer calories.
Because of these changes, it is important for older adults to choose food that provides high nutritional value. You can find the best foods for your body and wallet by learning what nutritional information to focus on and how to fit it into your budget.
Healthy eating for older adults
Do you want a healthier diet? Try these healthy eating tips for more energy and prevention against some medical issues. Feel free to share this information with older adults in your community!
1. Know your nutrients
Nutrients in foods help our bodies stay healthy and active. Knowing which nutrients are important will help you decide what kinds of foods to eat. Your plate should be full of a variety of brightly colored foods. A healthy meal should include:
- Lean proteins such as lean meats, seafood, eggs, and beans
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- Low-fat dairy
Look for foods that are high in fiber and Vitamin D. Avoid foods with high salt content.
2. Create a healthy plate
The USDA has created a simple way to help you know what you should be eating each day. MyPlate is an easy-to-read graphic that shows how the five food groups (fruits, grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy) should appear on your plate. Use this graphic as a building block for healthy eating and finding power foods that improve health.
3. Drink water
Staying hydrated is an important part of a healthy diet. To avoid getting dehydrated, drink small amounts of fluids throughout the day. In addition to water, tea and coffee are great ways to stay hydrated. Try to avoid drinks with a lot of sugar and salt unless your doctor suggests otherwise.
4. Read the nutritional facts label
While many people don’t need to spend a lot of time analyzing nutritional labels, it is important to know how to read them and understand what you are consuming. You can find nutritional labels on your food’s packaging.
Try to find items that are low in fat, added sugars, and sodium. Whole foods offer the most nutritional benefits and can often be found around the perimeter of the grocery store, such as produce, meat, and dairy.
5. Take advantage of your resources
There are many resources available to help older adults get the nutrition they need to be healthy. If you are 60 or older, you could qualify for the senior Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. You can use SNAP benefits to buy food at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
6. Season food with herbs and spices
Sometimes, we add salt to our food for flavor. But, salt can cause health issues and is not usually recommended as part of healthy eating.
Instead, try seasoning your food with herbs and spices. Dried herbs and spices are often affordable choices that will not hinder your diet. Some herbs to try include cayenne pepper, basil, sage, and rosemary.
7. Plan your meals
Planning your meals ahead of time can help you eat healthy and save money at the store. If you know what you are going to eat throughout the week, you can avoid unhealthy choices out of convenience.
You will also avoid buying too much food that will spoil before you can eat it. Consider preparing your weekly meals and freezing them until you are ready to for them.
8. Cut down on sugar
Refined sugars have a lot of empty calories that offer no nutritional value. Slowly reduce the number of sugary foods you eat and replace them with whole foods that are naturally sweet, such as fruits and sweet peppers. Consult with your doctor before making changes to your diet.
9. Add physical activity
Physical activity paired with nutritious eating is a winning combination for a healthy lifestyle. Set a goal to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day. You can split this up into smaller, 10-15 minute increments throughout the day.
If you are not currently active, start slow and work your way up to more activity. You might want to try simple exercises that improve balance or go on a walk around the block in your neighborhood. A health professional can help you come up with a physical exercise plan that works best for you.
10. Receive healthy meals at home
If you have a hard time preparing meals, you might want to try a home-delivered meal service. Look for a service that fits your budget and offers healthy options. If you have specific diet requirements, check with the service before ordering. Home-delivered meal services might also offer additional perks, such as a free trial and wellness checks.
Could you or a loved one use healthy, home-delivered meals? Meals on Wheels provides delicious and nutritious meals right to your door. Our services are available in Stark, Summit, and Wayne Counties. Call 330-515-5605 or visit our Meals on Wheels page to learn more!
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.