Making smart food choices is wise at any age, and according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), choosing healthy meals as we get older is even more important to reflect changes in our bodies in our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. Here are 10 easy-to-follow steps.
Seniors and Nutrition: 10 Steps to Smarter Eating
- Have Fun Eating. Meals should be a social event. They’re just more enjoyable when we eat with others. So invite friends to join you, or plan a regular potluck with neighbors. Also take part in church or senior center opportunities to dine together.
- Do the Research. Starting now, before you go grocery shopping or order from a menu, seek a little nutritional advice. Check out the NIA resources to help you choose what to eat, how much to eat and which foods are best for your long-term health.
- Read Labels. Nutrition facts can help you make the right food choices. Labels include everything from calories and fats to vitamins and sodium. Ask your doctor if there are ingredients and nutrients you might need to limit or increase.
- Vary Your Veggies. Not only are they a good source of fiber and nutrients, vegetables add color to your plate. So, from broccoli to carrots, beets to peppers, mix your veggies to make your meal visually appealing as well as delicious.
- Bite On. You might discover that your teeth and gums change as you age. Don’t sacrifice needed nutrients if you have dental problems that make it hard to chew your favorite foods. Try nutrient-dense cooked or canned foods, including low-sodium soups, canned tuna or chicken and unsweetened fruit.
- Spice It Up. If recipes and restaurant entrées taste different, don’t automatically blame the cook! Foods sometimes seem to lose their flavor as we age with changes in our sense of taste, sense of smell, or both. Medications may also have an effect. Use herbs and spices to add no-calorie flavor to foods.
- Get Your Fill. Know how much to eat. Some seniors eat too little and others too much to get a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Learn about portion size, and consider taking part of your meal home when eating out. Leftovers are often perfect for lunch the next day.
- Drink Up. With age, we lose some of our sense of thirst. To stay hydrated, drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. Water is a top choice—along with low-fat or fat-free milk and 100% juice. Limit beverages with added sugars or salt.
- Stay Safe. Don’t take a chance with expired, raw or undercooked foods. According to the NIA, a food-related illness can be life-threatening for an older person. Avoid and throw out food that might not be safe.
- Take a Vitamin? The best way to get critical nutrients is through the food you eat every day. But vitamins may help when you can’t consume what your body needs. It’s best to ask your doctor. Some dietary supplements can interfere with your medications and medical conditions.
Health & Wellness Is Our Priority! Retirement communities like Vista Grande Villa offer restaurant-style dining with an ever-changing, chef-prepared menu of nutritious options, plus scheduled transportation to grocery stores when you want to cook for yourself. Contact us to learn more!