As we get older, our bodies tell us in subtle (and some not-so-subtle) ways that our dietary needs are changing. As we become seniors, nutrition is no longer considered just a good idea. What we put into our bodies in our later years is vital not only to our long-term health but day-to-day wellness too.
Growing older means our metabolism starts slowing down. We need fewer calories than we once did and the nutrients in some foods become much more important. Keeping a healthy weight and getting the right balance of fiber and vitamins can keep you from showing signs of imbalance and also may save you a lot of money. A healthier you means a lot fewer visits to the doctor and likely fewer medications. For assisted living residents, many have a nutrition plan already in place. For those who still make their way to the grocery store regularly, they may find creating a dietary plan to be a challenge. With time and effort, however, you will find a dietary routine that works for you and keeps you feeling great. Here are some tips on nutritional needs for senior citizens:
What Does a Good Meal Look Like?
There used to be a well-known diagram for the proportions of a healthy plate based on the different food groups. It was called the Food Pyramid. It was the product of the USDA and was a sound way to plan a nutritious meal. These days, the USDA is calling it MyPlate. The website displays a simple interactive graphic of a plate showing how the five food groups would typically stack up, indicating that now, a minimum of 50% of each meal should be comprised of fruits & vegetables, with the balance being made up of lean protein, whole grains & a little bit of dairy. This, of course, does not account for specific dietary needs as stated by your doctor. You may need more of one thing than another, or perhaps your diet may be restrictive of things like dairy altogether. In any case, this is a good place to start.
This is good advice for all ages. Ignore the front of the package of most grocery items. They say things like “All Natural” and “Reduced Fat.” That is just marketing. Flip the product over and look at the nutritional facts. Does the product contain too many preservatives? What is the salt content per serving? For that matter, what does it assume a serving size is? These are facts about what you are putting into your body, and they need to measure up to your dietary needs or remain on the shelf.
Less Is More
Weight management is not exclusive to the elderly. That should be a given, and for a lot of people, weight is an issue long before age sets in. Portion size is paramount. As early as your late thirties, you shouldn’t be going back for a second heaping plate of pasta. Metabolisms are one of the first things to slow down as we age. Keep your portions less than you think you are hungry for. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for seniors as it prevents issues like diabetes, and can also alleviate stress on your joints and muscles, which will reduce arthritis symptoms and discomfort.
Drink Water All Day
This is another tip for all ages but especially for those of us over 60. Drink small amounts of fluids throughout the day. Coffee and tea are fine as long as your doctor does not have objections. Staying hydrated is so critical to our well-being. Becoming dehydrated will have an immediate effect on your physical and mental state. Headaches can come on quickly, and fatigue and digestive problems will follow unless we drink steadily throughout each day.
Learn more about assisted living and their nutritional programs by speaking with Peter at Colten Adult Care today.