Healthy Eating Choices for Seniors
A nutritious diet is important at any age. Making healthy food choices provides special benefits to seniors. Eating well promotes health and energy, improves digestion and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Making these healthy eating choices may be easier than you think. Assisted living facilities offer a variety of healthy eating choices for seniors. If you live at home, you can create your own healthy meals by yourself or with the help of a home care expert.
Simple Steps to Good Nutrition
Every senior can make two highly effective and very simple healthy eating choices right away, with absolutely no extra help, planning or expense – removing salt from the table and switching to whole grain breads. Lowering your salt intake is good for your heart; simply keeping the saltshaker out of view naturally reduces your sodium consumption. Whole grain breads are high in fiber that makes you feel fuller and optimizes your digestive system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that older people who include at least 3 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables into their daily diet may:
- Receive some of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they need to maintain good health
- Maintain energy levels
- Maintain digestive regularity
- Prevent or delay the unhealthy effects of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic illnesses
Enjoy a variety of flavors and colors
If you are like most people, you are becoming less active as you age. Adjust your caloric intake according to your activity level to maintain a healthy weight. The USDA provides specific guidelines regarding calorie intake specially designed for individuals aged 60 to 74, categorized by gender and activity level. For example, a woman who exercises less than a half hour a day should consume only 1600 calories, one who exercises for 45 minutes a day can take in 1,800 calories, and a female who exercises for an hour each day can eat up to 2,200 calories daily. A man who exercises for 30 minutes or less should restrict his diet to 2,000 to 2,200 calories, one who exercises for 45 minutes can consume up to 2,400 calories and a man who is physically active for more than an hour each day should take in as much as 2,600 calories daily.
To lower your cholesterol and keep your heart in tip-top shape, cut down on your beef intake and increase your consumption of fish. Opt for lean cuts of chicken and pork whenever fish is not available.
Avoid empty calories, like those in chips, cookies, soda and alcohol. These foods and drinks add to your waistline but provide little to no nutrition. Satisfy your sweet tooth and cravings for crunchiness with some fruit or nuts.
Considering Cost and Ease of Preparation
Some senior citizens worry about the expense and preparation associated with choosing fresh foods over prepared entrees. Many frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are healthy, as long as you avoid excessive amounts of added sugar and salt.
Entrees can be especially problematic for many seniors living independently.
Purchasing, cooking, and freezing home-cooked meals may not be a reasonable option for you anymore, even though you do well at performing other activities of daily living.
Consider hiring a home care aide to do your grocery shopping, cooking and housework, to make it easier for you to enjoy nutritious meals at home without the inconvenience.
Summary: Nutrition is important at any age but especially so for seniors. Getting proper nutrition, however, is really quite easy. Seniors living in assisted living facilities or independently with in-home care can eat a healthy diet without a lot of inconvenience or needless expense.