A nutritious diet is one of the most effective ways for seniors to take control of their health. However, before you get scared off by the word “diet”, remember that the word simply refers to what we eat every day and doesn’t need to signify deprivation. You might be surprised to learn there are a number of simple, enjoyable ways to transform the way you eat (and it can help you feel better, too!).
If you’re ready to take a closer look at the foods that fuel you, read on to discover healthy eating tips for seniors.
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
Eating a healthy diet is about much more than just counting calories. Choosing the right foods can offer benefits ranging from increased energy and improved brain health to mitigation of chronic conditions like osteoporosis and high blood pressure. Though diet is just one part of the equation for a healthy lifestyle, these six tips will get you off to a great start.
Always check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Choose Diverse Nutrients
As the body naturally ages and the metabolism slows, older adults typically require a reduced caloric intake. At the same time, a more nutritious diet is needed to counteract decreases in bone and muscle mass. Some of the most important nutrients for seniors to factor into their diet include potassium, calcium, vitamin D, dietary fiber, protein and vitamin B12. As you plan meals, incorporate nutrient-rich foods such as:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean proteins
- Beans and lentils
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
Find Foods You Love
When you look at the categories of foods that are most beneficial for older adults, there’s no shortage of choices. By selecting healthy foods that you also enjoy, it’s easier to stick to your plan. Here’s a small sampling of tasty options packed with essential nutrients for seniors:
- Greens: spinach, kale and collard greens
- Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnips
- Berries: blueberries, raspberries and dark cherries
- Nuts and Seeds: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios
Understand Your Body
Understanding the ways your body changes with age is directly tied to healthy eating. Many older adults experience diminished hunger and thirst, meaning you might have to add additional focus on eating and drinking at regular intervals. It can even be helpful to set reminders throughout the day to have a glass of water or stop for a snack. Or, get the benefits of both by eating foods with high water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, tomatoes and celery.
Limit Salt and Sugar
A diet high in added salts and sugars can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. While these ingredients don’t need to be eliminated from what you eat entirely, moderation is key to improving your wellbeing. Often, the biggest culprits for unhealthy amounts of salt and sugar are processed convenience foods. When you’re looking for something easy, reach for these options:
- Bagged salads or pre-sliced fruits and vegetables
- Low-sodium/low-sugar frozen or canned fruits and vegetables
- Precooked turkey or chicken
- Low-sodium canned soups
In addition to selecting the right foods, appropriate portions are critical for healthy eating habits. Seniors can avoid overindulgence by planning a menu at the start of the week. Then, as you prepare meals you can portion any extra out for convenient, healthy options that help beat the temptation to reach for junk food. Just a small amount of preparation leads to a significant investment in your own health.
One often-overlooked aspect of a healthy diet for seniors is medications. Ingesting certain prescription drugs in combination with common foods can result in dangerous side effects. For example, some cholesterol-lowering drugs mixed with grapefruit and grapefruit juice may increase the risk of muscle pains, liver damage and kidney failure. Always consult with your doctor about medication interactions that can impact your diet.
See What Healthy Eating Looks Like at Abbey Delray South
At Abbey Delray South, we’re committed to the holistic wellness of every resident. From chef-led dining venues filled with fresh, flavorful foods to our state-of-the-art, 24-hour fitness center, we’re here to offer the support you need to reach your goals.