01 Apr 10 Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
A guide to developing healthy nutrition for elders.
Maintaining healthy nutrition is often more challenging for older adults. Seniors often have unique health needs. This can make getting the right nutrition difficult. With age, our metabolism slows and you may not be as interested in food as you were before.
Adequate senior nutrition is important to help you live a healthy life and boost energy levels. Improper nutrition can create fatigue. It can lead to other illnesses as well that a senior may experience in their lifetime.
To facilitate proper nutrition, the following list outlines 10 healthy eating tips for seniors to follow.
In many cases, our sense of thirst decreases as we get older. As a result, seniors might not realize that they’re not drinking enough water or liquids. By not drinking enough of the right liquids, you can become dehydrated and face other health complications. It is advisable to drink water or other low-calorie beverages (without caffeine or alcohol) to stay hydrated.
Eating socially doesn’t mean eating poorly
There’s no better way to eat than by breaking bread with others. Find friends or family to encourage and support each other through making fresh and nutritious prepared meals together. When dining at home, it can be easier to eat well when you share meals with others, since you may be less tempted to go for processed foods or fast food for one. Dining out can often be a struggle to eat healthy, but it doesn’t have to be. For one, you don’t have to be perfect. Indulging on occasion is both fun and rewarding. Plus, it can help you stay on track so you don’t feel like you are being deprived. Also, make simple swaps at the restaurant that can boost the nutritional value of your meal. One example is swapping your french fries for steamed veggies or a side salad.
Prepare healthy meals
One of the best tools for aging well is to eat healthy and nutritious food. A varied menu of healthy meals consumed regularly is important for seniors to meet recommended dietary guidelines.
It’s crucial to eat well-balanced meals. Always incorporate healthy items such as fresh fruits, seafood, poultry, whole grains, and a variety of vegetables.
Understand how much you should be eating.
More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are classified as overweight or obese. Over 33 percent of adults fall into this designation of obesity. The reasons for this vary. One main contributor in American society relates to large portion sizes.
Most people aren’t aware of what a healthy portion size is. Many restaurants, for example, serve 2-3 times the amount of a proper portion. Naturally, we’ve adopted oversized portions even when we are cooking at home. If you dine out, take part of the meal back home to eat for another day. One tip would be to ask the server to box half of the meal right when you order. Overindulging regularly can lead to weight gain and obesity which fuel other health concerns.
The following are some visual indicators to help you understand portion sizes better:
- A baseball is about the portion size of a cup of cooked vegetables or potatoes. In a restaurant the portion size of potatoes often looks more like a football than a baseball.
- A deck of cards weighs around three ounces. This is a standard portion size for poultry and meat.
- A checkbook is also around three ounces in weight- think of what a comparable fish might look like.
- A serving size for condiments equals two tablespoons. Consider this when adding ketchup, mayonnaise, or dressing on a salad.
Be sure to check out our tips for seniors to lose weight.
Mix up your vegetables
As we get older, our digestive system gradually slows down. Because of this, it is crucial to regularly consume high-fiber foods. This can eliminate difficulties that stem from constrained digestion.
One way to proceed is to understand the nutritional components of different vegetables. Any easy tip though is to eat a variety of different-colored vegetables. By varying your vegetable intake, you can add more fiber and nutrients to your diet. Resist the urge to eat the same types of vegetables every day. Every veggie provides different minerals and nutrients that your body needs to thrive. Also, consider adding in organic vegetables when possible. To minimize the intake of pesticides and other inorganic materials, read our guide on some organic fruits and veggies to eat and some that you can skip if your budget doesn’t allow it.
Consume food that accommodates our teeth and gums
Many elder tend to develop dental problems as they age. As a result, it can become difficult to eat some harder fruits, meat, and raw veggies. It’s vital to include softer alternatives. Examples include cooked varieties of vegetables, unsweetened canned fruits, tuna, and soups and broth that are low in sodium. Read more about dental risks for seniors to understand here.
Make use of herbs and spices while minimizing salt
As we age, many elders find that their sense of flavor diminishes along with their taste buds. Their favorite foods might not taste as flavorful as they used to. Medications can adversely impact both taste and smell. Smell is strongly correlated to how our food tastes and how we perceive them.
As opposed to just using more salt, mix in a variety of spices and herbs to enhance the flavor of your meals. That way, you can bring back flavor to your foods while keeping your sodium intake in check.
Don’t ignore the importance of food safety.
Seniors often don’t consider food safety issues when it comes to thinking about healthy eating tips.
Examples might include the potential safety concerns of food left out overnight, or chicken left in the fridge past its expiration date. Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not the food is safe to eat. When thinking about the importance of food safety, it is advisable to err on the side of caution when it comes to maintaining food safety.
For food safety and ultimately to prevent health concerns, it is better to be safe than sorry. Other tips include avoiding unpasteurized dairy foods and eliminating the consumption of raw or undercooked foods. This article is a good guide with common food scenarios in determining safety.
Understand and read nutrition labels
Learn how to look for the best food items by evaluating the nutrition labels. Ensure that you understand what you are looking for and what you should pay attention to. Most seniors should focus on sodium, fat, and total calories as a starting point. However, your needs or restrictions may be more individually personalized and can vary depending on your health risks or conditions present. Talk to your personal care physician or dietician to better understand what your nutritional concerns and focus should be.
Talk to your doctor about vitamins or supplements
Food is by far the preferred method of getting all of the nutrients our body needs. At times, we can’t get all of the nutrients, minerals, or vitamins from just our diet alone. As a result, supplements may be necessary. However, this should be directed at the advice of your own physician. Consult your doctor to make the best decisions that impact your health. Take note of your typical dietary intake to better guide your doctor’s decision making.
Making healthy food choices is vital, regardless of your age. Consider adding supportive at-home caregivers like those at Chosen Family. Our caregivers help elders better monitor food nutrition and even assist in preparing healthy and delicious meals, all while living independently at home and assisting in other activities of daily living as needed. Check out all of our insights and consider Chosen Family for your at-home elder care needs for you or your loved one.