Our bodies and activity levels change over time. This means that as you age, your diet will also have to change to keep your energy and physical health in tip-top shape. A proper diet will also prevent malnutrition and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Following a nutritional plan allows your body to get the nutrients it needs to prevent diseases like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
As you begin to enjoy your golden years, physiological changes can create risk for nutritional deficiencies that can affect your health. Some of these changes in senior dietary needs include:
One easy tip to help consume enough calcium-rich foods and beverages is to make it a goal to eat (or drink) three low-fat dairy products a day. Calcium can also be found in real fruit juice and leafy, dark green vegetables. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish like salmon.
Did you know? At StoryPoint, residents can follow a Sensible Sodium program, which provides lower sodium meal options for residents. As menus change daily, there are always multiple lower sodium meal options to choose from.
While there are numerous nutritional elements to consider as you age, planning your meals ahead of time and knowing how much of different food groups to consume can help. To get an idea of what should be on your plate each day, read below about appropriate serving sizes and portions for older adults.
Consuming a variety of food groups will help maximize your nutritional input. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines advise that adults 50 and older should aim to follow this guideline each day:
Based on these guidelines, and on the physiological changes you might be experiencing as you age, focus on building a diet based on a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole and fortified grains, and low-fat and non-fat dairy products. Foods that are high in added sugars (like cakes, fruit pies, muffins and donuts) should be limited to occasional treats.
Examples of foods that you might consider incorporating into your diet could be:
If you’re out to eat, you might find it more difficult to choose the right meal or snack. In that case, older adults can rely on a few reliable guidelines.
When thinking in terms of caloric intake, the decision between potato chips and kale chips is pretty straightforward. (Answer: The right choice is kale chips!)
2. Avoid empty calories
Think about those potato chips again. The nutritional information will probably tell you that there’s a lot of calories without much nutritional value. It’s best to avoid items like these that are considered to have empty calories. Other empty calorie food items include candy, baked desserts or breakfast sweets, soda, and alcohol.
3. Aim to pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat
A quick glance at any label will clue you in to how many saturated and trans fats might be in a food item. If there’s no label, know that saturated fats are usually found in fatty animals (red meat, especially) and trans fats can be found in margarine and vegetable shortening.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is crucial in helping your body function properly at every stage of life. For proper hydration, aim to drink eight glasses of water per day. Seems like a hefty task? Increase your water intake by eating soup, water-rich foods (you guessed it — vegetables and fruits) and drinking juice.
Tip: Adding natural flavoring to your water (lemons, cucumbers, limes, etc.) can improve the flavor and encourage you to drink more.
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At StoryPoint, every meal is crafted with our residents in mind. Not only are residents able to choose from multiple, customizable meal options each day, they also have access to our in-house registered dietitian and personal nutritional plans. To learn more about our dining options, contact StoryPoint at 1-855-407-8679.