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As you get older, eating well can help improve your mental sharpness, boost your energy levels, và increase your resistance khổng lồ illness. These senior diet & nutrition tips can help.

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The benefits of healthy eating as you age

Healthy eating is important at any age, but becomes even more so as we reach midlife và beyond. As well as keeping your body healthy, eating well can also be the key lớn a positive outlook và staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have khổng lồ be about dieting and sacrifice. Rather, it should be all about enjoying fresh, tasty food, wholesome ingredients, và eating in the company of friends and family.

No matter your age or your previous eating habits, it’s never too late khổng lồ change your diet and improve the way you think và feel. Improving your diet now can help you to:

Live longer and stronger.Good nutrition can boost immunity, fight illness-causing toxins, keep weight in check, & reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, and cancer. Along with physical activity, a balanced diet can also contribute to enhanced independence as you age.

Sharpen your mind.People who eat fruit, leafy veggies, và fish và nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids may be able to improve focus & decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant-rich green tea may also enhance memory and mental alertness as you age.

Feel better.Wholesome meals can give you more energy và help you look better, resulting in a boost to your mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body toàn thân feels good, you feel happier inside and out.

Healthy eating is about more than just food

Eating well as you age is about more than just the quality and variety of your food. It’s also about the pleasure of eating, which increases when a meal is shared. Eating with others can be as important as adding vitamins to lớn your diet. A social atmosphere stimulates your mind, makes meals more enjoyable, và can help you stick lớn your healthy eating plan.

Even if you live alone, you can make healthy meals more pleasurable by:

Shopping with others. Shopping with a friend can give you a chance to catch up without falling behind on your chores. It’s also a great way to nội dung new meal ideas và save money on discount deals like “buy one, get the second half price”.

Cooking with others. Invite a friend to nội dung cooking responsibilities—one prepares the entrée, the other dessert, for example. Cooking with others can be a fun way to deepen your relationships, & splitting costs can make it cheaper for both of you.

Making mealtimes a social experience.The simple act of talking khổng lồ a friend or loved over the dinner table can play a big role in relieving stress và boosting mood. Gather the family together regularly & stay up lớn date on everyone’s lives. Invite a friend, coworker, or neighbor over.Visiting an adult day care centeror enrolling in a senior meal program can also provide both companionship & nutritious meals for older adults.


How to create a healthy senior diet

The key khổng lồ healthy eating is lớn focus on the whole, minimally processed food that your body needs as you age—food that is as close lớn its natural size as possible. Our bodies respond differently khổng lồ different foods, depending on genetics & other health factors, so finding the healthy diet that works best for you may take some experimentation. These tips are a good place lớn start:

Eat plenty of fruit & vegetables.Break the apple & banana rut and go for color-rich pickings lượt thích berries or melons. Aim for 2-3 servings a day. When it comes lớn veggies, choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, và broccoli as well as colorful vegetables such as carrots and squash. Make veggies more appetizing by drizzling them with olive oil, sprinkling with goat cheese, or frying with garlic or chili flakes. Try for 2-3 cups every day.

Choose calcium for bone health.Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequatecalcium intake to lớn prevent osteoporosis và bone fractures. Good sources include milk, yogurt, cheese or non-dairy sources such as tofu, broccoli, almonds, và kale. Learn more>>

Go “good fat” not “no fat”.Rather than trying to cut out fat from your diet, focus onenjoying healthy fats—such as omega-3s—that can protect your body against disease and support your mood & brain function. Learn more>>

Vary your sources of protein.As you age, eating enough high-quality protein can improve your mood, boost your resistance khổng lồ stress, anxiety, & depression, và even help you think more clearly. However, eating too much protein from processed meat products such as hot dogs, bacon, & salami may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, và other health problems. Vary your sources of protein instead of relying on just red meat by including more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, và seeds in your diet. Learn more>>

Eat more fiber.Dietary fiber can bởi so much more than keep you regular. It can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, & diabetes, improve the health of your skin, and help you to thảm bại weight. As you age, your digestion becomes less efficient, so it’s important lớn include enough fiber in your diet. Women over 50 should aim khổng lồ eat at least 21 grams of fiber per day, men over 50 at least 30 grams a day. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t getting even half those amounts. Learn more>>

Be smart about carbs.Choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and fiber và cut down on sugar and refined carbs. While our senses of taste và smell diminish with age, we retain the ability khổng lồ distinguish sweet tastes the longest, leading many older people to consume more sugar & refined carbs than is healthy. Unlike complex carbs that are rich in fiber, refined or simple carbs (such as white rice, trắng flour, refined sugar) can lead to a dramatic spike in blood sugar, followed by a rapid crash which leaves you feeling hungry and prone to lớn overeating. Learn more>>


Important vitamins and minerals as you get older

Water.As you age, you may be more prone to lớn dehydration because your sense of thirst is not as sharp. Remember to lớn sip water regularly khổng lồ avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.

Vitamin B.After the age of 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it harder khổng lồ absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves healthy. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vi-ta-min supplement.

Vitamin D.With age, your skin is less efficient at synthesizing vi-ta-min D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin, especially if you’re obese or have limited sun exposure.


Cope with changing dietary needs as you age

Every season of life brings changes and adjustments khổng lồ your body. Understanding what is happening will help you take control of your nutritional and dietary requirements.

Physical changes that can affect your diet

Metabolism.Every year over the age of 40, our metabolism slows, and often we become less physically active. This makes it even more important to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits lớn avoid weight gain.

Weakened senses.Older adults tend to thua kém sensitivity khổng lồ salty và bitter tastes first, so you may be inclined to lớn salt your food more heavily than before—even though older adults need less salt than younger people. Use herbs, spices, & healthy oils—like olive oil—to season food instead of salt.

Medications and illness. Some health problems or medications can negatively influence appetite or affect taste, again leading older adults khổng lồ consume too much sugar or salt. Talk khổng lồ your doctor.

Digestion.Due to lớn a slowing digestive system, you generate less saliva & stomach acid as you get older, making it more difficult for your toàn thân to process certain vitamins và minerals, such as B12, B6, & folic acid, which are necessary lớn maintain mental alertness & good circulation. Up your fiber intake and talk lớn your doctor about possible supplements.

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Lifestyle changes that can affect your diet

Loneliness & depression. For some, feeling down leads to lớn not eating & in others it may trigger overeating. Sharing meals with other people can be an effective antidote lớn loneliness. Reach out khổng lồ friends or neighbors—everyone loves a home-cooked meal and most people who live alone are in the same boat as you. Be the one lớn reach out & break the ice.

Death or divorce.If you’re newly single, you may not be used to lớn cooking or have little enthusiasm for preparing meals for just yourself. However, cooking your own meals can help you take charge of your health. The key tocooking for oneis to master a few basic skills và get creative in making meals that work specifically for you.

Living on a limited budget. With the right tips and a little planning, it is possible lớn enjoyhealthy food on the cheap.Often, by simply cutting out junk and processed foods, you can không tính tiền up enough in your budget to enjoy healthier, better chất lượng food.


Understanding malnutrition

Malnutrition is a critical health issue among older adults caused by eating too little food, too few nutrients, & by digestive problems related to aging. Malnutrition causes fatigue, depression, weak immune system, anemia, weakness, digestive, lung, & heart problems.

To prevent malnutrition as you age:

Eat nutrient-packed food.Have flavorful food available.Snack between meals.Eat with company as much as possible.Get help with food preparation.

Overcome obstacles to lớn eating well as an older adult

Let’s face it, there’s a reason why so many of us have trouble eating nutritiously every day. Sometimes it’s just quicker or easier lớn eat unhealthy food. If you’re having trouble getting started on a healthy eating plan, these tips can help:

Boost a low appetite

Check with your doctor lớn see if your loss of appetite could be due to medication, và whether the medication or dosage can be changed. Try natural flavor enhancers such as olive oil, butter, vinegar, garlic, onions, ginger, & spices to boost your appetite.

Cope with difficulty chewing

Make chewing easier by drinking smoothies made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and protein powder.Eat steamed veggies và soft food such as couscous, rice, and yogurt.Consult your dentist to make sure your dentures are properly fitted.

Deal with a dry mouth

Drink 8–10 glasses of water each day.Take a drink of water after each bite of food.Add sauces và salsas to lớn moisten your food.Avoid commercial mouthwash.Ask your doctor about artificial saliva products.

But what if you don’t like healthy food?

None of us were born with a craving for French fries và donuts or an aversion to lớn broccoli. This conditioning happens over time as we’re exposed to more & more unhealthy food choices. However, it is possible lớn reprogram your brain’s food cravings over time so that you crave healthier foods instead.

Commit to lớn keeping an open mind. Just because a food is healthy, it doesn’t mean it can’t be tasty as well.

Don’t change everything all at once. showroom a side salad to your normal dinner, for example, or substitute unhealthy fries with baked sweet potato fries, or have a smaller portion of dessert và fill up with melon & pineapple slices.

Focus on how you feel after eating well—this will help foster new habits and tastes. The more healthy food you eat, the better you’ll feel afterwards.

Or are stuck in a rut?

No matter how healthy your diet, eating the same foods over & over is bound khổng lồ get boring. Rekindle inspiration by:

Browsing produce at a farmers market.Reading a cooking magazine.Buying foods or spices you haven’t tried before.Chatting with friends about what they eat.

Or you can’t siêu thị or cook for yourself?

Take advantage of trang chủ delivery.Most grocery stores have online delivery services. Other companies deliver pre-made meals or kits with all the ingredients you need khổng lồ prepare a meal at home.

Swap services.Ask a friend, neighborhood teen, or college student if they would be willing to shop for you in return for homework help, for example.

Share your home.Consider having a housemate/companion who would be willing to vì the grocery shopping and cooking.


Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels provides nutritious meals to people who are homebound and/or disabled, or would otherwise be unable to lớn maintain their dietary needs. See links below for information on finding a program in your area.


Eating well on a budget

For many older adults on a fixed, limited budget, knowing how khổng lồ eat healthily is only part of the problem. Paying for the healthiest food isn’t always easy but there are ways lớn stretch your budget và save money on nutritious food.

Eat out less.It may seem that fast food is less expensive than cooking at home. But a meal for two at a fast-food restaurant in the U.S., with drinks và a side of fries each, can cost $10 to lớn $15. Preparing a simple, healthy beef stew or roast chicken with vegetables can cost far less and leave you with leftovers as well.

Stick to lớn your grocery list.The more prepared you are when food shopping, the less impulse purchases you’ll make.

Buy in bulk. Doing things in bulk saves time và money. It’s always a good idea to lớn buy non-perishable items, such as dried beans and canned fish, in bulk. You can freeze perishable items, such as meat và bread, in smaller portions khổng lồ use as needed or split them with a friend—saving you both money.

Search out farmers’ markets. Many places host weekly farmers’ markets where local farmers sell fresh food directly, often cheaper than the grocery store. Towards the over of the market, some vendors sell remaining perishable items at a discount.

Purchase generic/store brands.When you shop at conventional grocery stores, the store or generic brand will often be cheaper than the name brand for the same chất lượng product.

Join the grocery store savings club và look out for discount coupons for more savings.

Purchase less expensive cuts of meat & make better use of it.You’ll save money on the cut of meat và stretch the meat for more meals when you make tasty casseroles, sauces, soups, stews, và stir-fries. Add vegetables, beans, & whole grains to create filling & delicious meals.

Cook once and eat multiple times. Cook a large meal at the beginning of the week so that you have extra to use later in the week when you don’t feel lượt thích cooking.

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Authors: Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Last updated: August 2021


Meals on wheels programs

Meals on Wheels: Find a U.S. Program – Find a Meals on Wheels program in your area of the U.S. (Meals on Wheels Association of America)

Meals at trang chủ Services (UK) – In the UK, find a directory of providers in your area. (Gov.uk)

Meals on Wheels nước australia – Find your local Meals on Wheels service in Australia. (Meals on Wheels Australia)

Find a Meals on Wheels Location in Canada – Find senior meal programs in your area of Canada. (VON Canada)