Maintaining a balanced diet is important throughout every stage of life, but healthy nutrition is especially important as we age. Healthy eating habits may help manage or even prevent chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
As we get older, dietary requirements and eating habits may change slightly. However, it is important to continue to choose a balanced diet. The health tips below may help maintain a healthy diet while aging.
Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods
It is possible that as we age, caloric intake decreases slightly; however, nutrient needs will stay the same or even increase. It is important to select foods high in nutrients in order to get the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats the body needs to feel strong and energized.
Strive to receive most of your daily calories from nutrient-dense foods such as:
- fruits and vegetables
- lentils and beans
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- low fat or nonfat dairy
- lean protein (chicken, turkey, 90% [or leaner] ground beef, fish, tofu or other soy products)
Save those sweetened beverages, desserts, and deep-fried foods for special occasions. These unhealthy options are high in calories and low in nutrients.
Opt for Healthier Convenience Foods
Many individuals rely on “convenience foods” more frequently as they age. It is best to stay away from fast food restaurants and choose the healthiest options for meals at home. Try these easy to prepare but nutritious food options:
- frozen vegetables
- frozen unsweetened fruit
- precooked turkey or chicken (grilled)
- low sodium canned foods
- prepared salad mixes (bagged)
- steamed vegetable mixes (frozen, bagged)
- instant whole grain oatmeal
Be sure to read the labels carefully and stay away from products with added sodium or sweeteners. Also look for options with low saturated fats.
Drink Water Often
It is important to stay hydrated by drinking water on a regular basis. It may be especially important to drink enough water when taking medications. Try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. It’s also possible to get some of the daily water requirements by eating foods high in water content such as:
- Iceberg lettuce
- green peppers
- baby carrots
When Possible, Eat with Friends and Family
As they get older, many seniors find themselves eating alone due to the loss of a spouse, other family members, or friends. It may often seem easier to skip a meal than to prepare food for one person, but this is not a healthy choice. When possible make eating a social event and share a meal with friends or family. Keeping mealtime an enjoyable part of the day rather than a chore makes it less likely to be skipped.
Worried About a Loved One’s Eating Habits?
The first step is to identify any changes in appetite or weight. Speak with a doctor immediately about any health concerns. There are many ways to help a loved one maintain a healthy diet. If needed, Elders’ Helpers’ team of caregivers can assist in healthy meal preparation and spending time with your loved one during mealtime to be sure they’re making healthy dietary choices. Call us at 616-454-8305 to speak to a client coordinator today.