Healthy eating is important no matter what your age. However, as we get older, making good choices about the foods we eat becomes even more essential. Senior nutrition is perhaps one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle for older adults. While there is no one answer to the question of how to eat healthily, we do have a few tips that can help get you started. As the USDA says, “as we age, healthy eating can make a difference in our health, improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being.” Who wouldn’t want to live healthier, feel better, and be well? If you’re ready to take the first step towards these realities, consider our guide to senior nutrition!
Guide to Senior Nutrition
Know What Nutrients You Need
While it may seem simple, this is perhaps the most important component of senior nutrition. Of course, certain nutrients are important regardless of age, but as we get older some nutrients become more important. For example, in order to maintain good bone health, seniors need more calcium and vitamin D than when they were younger. Similarly, seniors need more vitamin B12, fiber, and potassium in their diets. Each of these nutrients combats health issues common among seniors such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. While on the topic of heart disease, seniors should closely monitor fats as well. Fats are not bad by themselves but when highly saturated, they can increase the risk of heart disease.
Read the Nutrition Facts
Now that you know what nutrients you need, the next step is to read the nutrition labels on the food you eat. The National Council on Aging considers this to be one of the six best ways to pick healthy foods. While you should, of course, look for foods that are high in the nutrients mentioned above, also search for foods that are low in unwanted additives like sugar and sodium. Nutrition facts may not be as interesting as a good book but reading them can improve your senior nutrition awareness.
Make Small Changes
Diets are often difficult because they require massive changes in habits that are likely well established. If you choose to make small, incremental changes rather than one big overhaul, it may be easier to eat healthily. For example, you could season foods with a variety of spices rather than salt. Choose a few spices that you like and keep them on hand in your kitchen for easy access. You can also add fruits and vegetables to meals that you already enjoy. This way, you can eat what you like and ensure that you are getting a well-balanced meal. Finally, consider changing your beverage choices. If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, consider water or low-fat milk to help you stay hydrated or improve bone strength.
Keep it Simple
It seems like every year there is some new diet that everyone talks about. Rather than trying to keep up with all of these changes, choose a simple, balanced diet. Eating well doesn’t have to require constant thought and planning. It just has to require mindful choices when picking your meals and snacks. The collection of small choices can add up to make a big difference on your overall health! If you are interested in senior nutrition, chances are you want to improve your health after all.
Senior nutrition is an important thing to keep in mind as we age. While there is a lot of information to consider above, you may still have some lingering questions. If so, take a look at our frequently asked questions about nutrition & exercise! As you work towards a healthy lifestyle, always keep in mind that there is no one thing that makes us healthy. Always eat well and exercise as your doctor recommends. Doing so can have an incredible impact on your quality of life.