Nutrition Tips for Older Adults
Last updated 1/4/2024 at 10:41pm | View PDF
As the calendar turns to a new year, many people resolve to start eating healthier. However, trying to keep up with the latest reports on nutrition as we age can be difficult – it seems like the advice is always changing.
But there are a few universal truths to nutrition as we age, and it’s important to understand how our needs change in our senior years and why that is. And with that, we can make dietary choices that help with bone strength, heart health and even cognitive ability.
To do so, on a basic level, each day you want to ensure you’re including each of the following categories in your diet:
• Fruits and vegetables;
• Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta);
• Dairy (skim or low-fat milk, or alternatives like soy or almond milk); and
• Lean protein (seafood, chicken, eggs, no red meat).
Starting there, you’ll help yourself mitigate some of the changes that occur as part of the aging process, which can include:
As we age, between our metabolism slowing down and a reduction in muscle mass, we need fewer calories than before, leading to less of an appetite. But by eating less, it can reduce the amount of important nutrients and minerals we need to stay healthy.
Eating a healthy diet, even in reduced amounts, can help provide the health benefits we need.
Heart disease is one of the leading health risks and causes of death among older adults. It becomes important as we age to scale back red meat, fried foods and sweets that can lead to risks to our heart.
To help build better nutrition in our later years, consider the following tips:
Make a Plan
Meal planning can be an easy way to incorporate healthy habits. Sitting down weekly and mapping out your meals will allow you to buy healthy options from the grocery store. Leaving meals to the last minute forces you to just have what’s on hand, or resort to old favorites.
One Change at a Time
It can be difficult to change eating habits later in life. If you or a loved one has been eating a certain way for decades, change isn’t likely to come overnight. So barring an acute health concern, try to phase changes in gradually.
Just as you can’t wake up one day and run a marathon, trying to do it all at once will just lead to frustration. Maybe start by switching to whole wheat pasta while leaving the rest of the meal as you normally would. Or substitute chicken for steak while enjoying the rest of your usual diet.
Build each small change into a habit and then move on to another one. Before long, it will be second nature.
This article is courtesy of Prestige Assisted Living at Visalia. To learn more about their wellness programming or community, or to book a tour, visit prestigecare.com/Visalia or call (559) 735-0828.