Maintaining a healthy diet is a priority in all stages of life, but as we grow older our body’s needs begin to change. We experience numerous new influences such as medications or lifestyle changes as we age. These changes can lead to a difference in taste or appetite, making adjustments to our diets a necessity. Below are some of our healthy eating for older adults tips and suggestions.
Healthy Eating Older Adults
There are some simple tips that can be followed to improve our diet as we age. These include reducing sodium intake, drinking plenty of fluids, practicing portion control, and keeping a high intake of fiber. Along with those, it is important to look for foods which are nutrient-dense, meaning they are low in calories but high in the nutrients your body needs. Some important nutrients to look for include potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
If it is difficult to keep yourself on track with a new diet regimen, it may be useful to change the way you approach meal times. One way to do this is to make your meal time a more social event by planning meals to eat with loved ones ahead of time. This makes the meal a fun experience to look forward to that is healthy for all involved.
It may feel intimidating to go grocery shopping while following a brand-new senior diet, but there are some foods which you can trust as a healthy choice. Soft foods that are cooked or canned such as unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soup, or canned tuna are great choices for those who struggle with meal prep. These choices are simple to make and provide you with necessary nutrients. Although, it is important to keep in mind that some of these canned goods are high in sodium or sugar, so looking for low sodium or no sugar is a key component to purchasing these items. If you have difficulty chewing, foods such as oatmeal and applesauce are great choices with a long shelf life.
When in search of nutrient-dense foods you may look for extra lean ground beef or a skinless chicken breast as a main portion of a meal. In order to avoid high amounts of sodium, you may consider replacing salt with herbs and spices when seasoning meals. You may add fruit or whole-wheat bread as nutrient-filled options to go with your meal as well as a side of vegetables. Milk is a great source of nutrients as well, making a great addition to any meal. If you are lactose intolerant you may consider lactose free options or small amounts of yogurt in its place.
What to Avoid
Food safety becomes a top concern as our loved ones begin to age. Our next item on our list of healthy eating for older adults tips is to be aware of danger foods. From food prep to storage, it is important to remain aware of these common items to avoid:
- Raw or undercooked fish/shellfish/meat/poultry
- Refrigerated, smoked fish
- Hot dogs and lunch meat (unless reheated to 165 degrees)
- Raw or unpasteurized milk
- Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk (feta/brie/blue)
- Raw or undercooked egg
- Raw sprouts
- Unwashed fresh vegetables
- Unpasteurized fruit and vegetables
If meal prep is difficult for you or your loved one, you may want to consider a meal delivery service. The nationwide program Meals on Wheels is a meal delivery service focused on seniors who are home bound or who have trouble preparing their own nutritious meals. Their drivers bring one hot lunch and one cold dinner to the senior’s home Monday through Friday. This service not only provides meals to seniors but brings them daily interaction and someone to check on their well-being from day to day. Cost is based on what the senior can afford, with no senior being refused based on their financial situation.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s diet, health habits, or questions about our list of healthy eating for older adults tips, contact us today!