A study of 200,000 Americans over 20 years, illustrates the benefit of good nutrition. People who ate sugary drinks and refined grains developed type 2 diabetes 16% more often.
Good nutrition can help prevent and control diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
But, healthy eating isn’t about eliminating everything you like from your diet. It’s about tasty food made with good ingredients. The right foods influence your physical, mental, and emotional feelings.
Keep reading for useful senior nutrition tips. It’s never too late to upgrade your diet to enhance your health.
1. Do You Know What a Healthy Meal Looks Like?
The best way to nourish your body as you age is to eat a variety of foods. A diverse mix of foods provides nutrients. It also keeps your meals interesting.
If all the food on your plate is beige, it lacks important nutrients. A healthy meal includes lots of bright colors.
Think orange, green, red, and purple veggies. Add lean protein and whole grains for texture and earth tones. Include low-fat dairy to complete your plate.
Remember the old food pyramid guide? The USDA updated it to a simpler guide called MyPlate. The MyPlate graphic explains how to build a healthy meal.
MyPlate is available as an interactive mobile app, too. The app tracks your food intake in real-time. It encourages smart choices. It gives tips based on individual dietary concerns.
2. Follow These Senior-Specific Guidelines
Your body’s nutritional needs change throughout life. Metabolism slows down with age. Your body needs fewer calories, but more nutrients.
Eating well improves mental acuity, energy levels, and health.
When you customize your eating plan to match your age you get the best fuel for your body. Good nutrition is a vital way to improve your ability and maintain your independence.
Make the following adjustments to improve your diet.
Reduce or Cut Use of Table Salt
Everyone’s sense of taste decreases with age. That prompts many older people to flavor their food with extra salt.
Too much salt increases your risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Be careful not to consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Add Flavor with Healthy Herbs and Spices
Instead of a salt shaker, season food with spices and fresh herbs.
Many healthy herbs and spices are full of flavor. Consider adding basil, sage, rosemary, Cayenne pepper, and curry to dishes.
Cut Down on Sugar
Processed sugars are empty calories. Cut sugar intake by reducing the number of refined sugars you eat. Replace candy and cookies with natural sweets like carrots, yams, and fruits.
Eat Healthy Fats
You won’t need to cut all the fats from your meals. But, you must choose healthy ones.
Replace saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good fats protect you from diseases. They also improve your mental and emotional state.
Good fats include avocado, nuts, olive oil, salmon, and tuna.
Consider Taking Supplements
Sometimes, food isn’t enough to keep your body nourished. If you can’t get enough nutrients from food, ask your doctor about supplements.
You can boost your nutrients with vitamins and minerals in pill form.
3. Always Study the Nutrition Facts Label
Check the nutrition label before you buy canned or packaged food. It only takes a few minutes to determine if an item is lower in fat, sodium, and sugar.
Don’t make choices based on the advertising copy on the package. Many products claim they’re a healthy option when they aren’t. Instead, read the nutrition facts label.
4. Eat the Right Amount of Food
The right amount of food to maintain your weight and health depends on your age and activity level.
An active woman aged 60+ should eat 2,000 calories per day. A sedentary 60-year-old needs 1,600 calories a day.
It can be tough to adjust cooking and serving portions as you age. Yet, it’s important to follow the recommended serving sizes to maintain a healthy weight. Pro tip: serve meals on smaller plates to trick your mind and stomach.
If you’re gaining weight, talk to your doctor about proper portions.
5. Stay Hydrated
Along with diminished taste buds, your sense of thirst decreases with age. It’s important not to get dehydrated. Water is a vital nutrient for a healthy body.
The best way to stay hydrated is to drink small amounts of liquid throughout the day. Water, tea, 100% juice, and coffee are good options. Avoid sugary and salty beverages.
6. Make Meals a Pleasant Experience
Think of your meals as an occasion, not a chore. Eating with friends and family elevates any dining experience.
Don’t eat out of a container while sitting in front of the TV. Instead, set your table with real plates and silverware. Share the meal with a friend or family member whenever possible.
A shared meal nourishes your body and mind. It’s fun to connect over food. It can improve your appetite and mood.
Another good way to eat well is to make a plan. It’s easier to maintain healthy habits when you plan and/or prep a week’s worth of dinners.
7. Balance Diet and Physical Activity
A combination of regular physical activity and a healthy diet is the best path to health.
If you’re inactive now, start with an easy stroll a few minutes each day. Increase the distance, duration, and pace of your walk over time.
Try to be active every day for a total of 30 minutes. Taking three 10-minute walks throughout the day is a good approach.
A routine of physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight. It also improves cardiovascular fitness. Talk to your doctor before taking on a new activity.
Use These Senior Nutrition Tips to Stay Healthy
Healthy eating depends on you, but we’re here to help. Use our senior nutrition tips to improve your health and independence as you age.
If you’re interested in a senior living community in North Tucson or Marana, AZ consider La Sonora. Each day, our chef plans nutritious and delicious meals for our residents. Every meal is a social event shared with neighbors and friends.
We’d love to show you the La Sonora dining experience or any other aspect of our community, contact us today for a tour.