As many of you reading this article are aware, growing older involves listening closely to your body’s needs. You or a loved one may find that the food which you enjoyed during your youth is not as compatible with your body as it used to be. As you grow older, a healthy diet will ensure that you are able to stay active and independent. Your metabolism is slowing down, meaning you need less food than before and the bites that you do take that matter more.
Not only will a balanced diet help you look and feel your best, you can even lower the risk of chronic health conditions simply by paying attention to what goes into your body. One in every four adults has poor nutrition, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging. Be it overweight or underweight, poor nutrition can weaken your muscles and bones, and put your health at serious risk. Eating foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well as limiting the consumption of food that is high in processed sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt can do wonders for your body. It’s never too late to start!
As your metabolism slows down, your digestive track changes. Your body produces less of the fluid that it needs to process foods. That being said, you have the power to make sure your body is supplied with the correct nutrients. Your appetite may change as you get older, either naturally or due to medical side effects. It is always important to talk to your doctor if you or a loved one notice any changes in your appetite.
Many people notice that emotional health affects appetite, weight, and physical health. Depression and loneliness often lead to people over or undereating. We suggest making eating a social activity with work colleagues, those you live with, or friends. Try to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time each day; make it a fun part of your routine! Eating with people and eating the same foods as them will help you with any dietary changes.
Building a healthy, balanced diet can be tricky. It can take some planning and not everyone has the time or energy. The USDA Food Guide MyPlate Plan offers some tips to help you feel good and look great. They suggest making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Make sure that half of your grains are whole grains. Enjoy your food, but eat less. And be sure to compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Choosing the one with the lowest numbers is the healthiest choice for you!
There is also the DASH Diet to try. This plan involves all of the core food groups, but is designed to help reduce blood pressure and increase heart health. The recommended daily serving amounts for each food are as follows:
Grains: 7 to 8 ounces
Meat and beans: 6 ounces or less of chicken, meat, and fish plus 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and/or dried beans per week
Milk: 2 to 3 cups
Vegetables: 2 to 2.5 cups
Fruit: 2 to 2.5 cups
Oils: 2 teaspoons
The most important aspect of a healthy diet is understanding that each person has a different set of needs. Keep a look out for the important nutritional information. Stick to the recommended serving sizes. And lastly, be sure to drink plenty of water!
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