Knowing healthy eating tips for seniors becomes important as you get older because your body’s metabolism slows down, reducing the number of calories that you need. If you continue to eat the way you did when you were younger, your body simply can’t keep up and you will put on weight, which could lead to obesity and other chronic health issues.
With that in mind, here are 3 top healthy eating tips for seniors:
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors #1:
Buy Whole Foods, Not Packaged Foods
This may seem obvious, but too many people rely on processed and packaged goods for their diet. The problem is that these processed foods are often high in fats, sugar and sodium – three items that you don’t want to be putting into an older body. Instead, focus on buying natural foods in the produce aisles, or freshly baked bread instead of bread that comes in a bag.
There are certain nutrients that you get in whole foods that are important for senior health. Vary your overall diet so that you receive enough Vitamin C (for strong bones) and Vitamin D (for overall health).
As a rule of thumb, any meal you have should include a mix of different colors – reds, oranges, greens and yellows. You also want to keep sodium and sugar to a minimum, so opt for low-sodium and low-sugar options when possible.
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors #2:
Follow the Recommended Servings for Your Age Group
Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how many calories you should be consuming as you get older, so most senior organizations (e.g. the AARP) and health practitioners (e.g. the Mayo Clinic) have handy guides to help you.
As a general guide, if you’re an average adult over the age of 60, you won’t be consuming more than 1,600 calories daily. If you have an active lifestyle, you may consume 2,000-2,200 calories daily.
When you’re planning your daily caloric intake, think in terms of the five major food groups. Think back to your days in high school (and maybe even grade school) – you have to vary your food intake, and that means an even distribution between the five major food groups – fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy.
Not all items within a food group are created the same. For proteins, for example, you’ll want to focus on lean proteins, such as skinless poultry and seafood rather than red meats. For dairy, you should focus on low-fat options. And for grains, you should focus on whole grains and brown rice.
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors #3:
Adjust Your Meals to Your Exercise Program
Keep in mind, if you’re actively working out, you’ll need to make some changes to your diet. The best “power snacks” are energy bars, bananas, yogurt, whole grain bagels, granola bars and peanut butter.
And remember, you need to think about the timing of your meals. If you have a large meal, you should wait three hours before exercising. And if you have a small meal, you should wait at least two hours.
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. According to the Mayo Clinic, low-fat milk, bananas, yogurt and whole grain cereal would make a great pre-exercise meal in the morning. Just be sure to wait at least 1 hour before working out!
You’ll feel sharper, more invigorated and better able to take on a daily fitness program by simply following these 3 healthy eating tips for seniors. And as you eat well, exercise regularly, your whole life will begin to change.