March is National Nutrition Month so what better time to give our tips for how to eat healthier at any age! Nutrition doesn’t change much as you age, but your metabolism does! As we age, our metabolism naturally slows, making being more conscious of our daily diets an integral part of maintaining health. Below are our tips for eating healthy & maintaining health as you age:
- Eat a variety – Choosing several different food choices at each meal ensures you are getting the essential macro- and micronutrients your body needs to function optimally. Macronutrients are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat all of which your body needs in certain ratios to give you energy to get through your day. Starting with protein, aim to eat .8-1g per pound of bodyweight each day. Good protein sources include lean meats (fish, chicken, turkey, etc.), eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese and protein supplements. Next, eat a generous amount of carbohydrates, both from fruit and vegetable sources, as well as whole grains like rice, oats, potatoes, beans and legumes. This ensures you are consuming adequate fiber and micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. Lastly, consume an adequate amount of fat from sources like nuts, oils, butters, higher fat meats, egg yolks and avocados/coconuts/etc. If you eat a variety, you will ensure all nutrient requirements are being met.
- Supplement with a multivitamin as recommended by your doctor – Often doctors will recommend a multivitamin or other vitamin supplements as needed for your health that may not be available in food sources. Talk with your doctor to find out what they recommend.
- Be mindful of how diet affects health conditions – Many health conditions can be combated with a proper diet and exercise program. For example, we have seen several seniors that were considered “pre-diabetic” completely reverse that diagnosis by making dietary changes. By maintaining healthy weight, you can combat a list of health conditions and better manage those you already have. You can eliminate the need for management medications. Certain nutrition protocols have even been proven to combat cancer and other life threatening conditions.
- Make sure you’re eating enough – Food gives us energy and as we age, energy levels decrease on their own. Get a good healthy breakfast of protein, carbohydrates and fats that will fuel you through your morning and set you up for success throughout the day. If your body has the calories it needs, you will have the energy you need.
- A healthy diet creates a healthy body weight – Obesity is a risk factor for many health conditions. It also leads to sluggish energy levels, joint problems, and lack of mobility. If you choose nutrient-dense foods, you can successfully eat more food while consuming less calories. A medium apple has approximately 95 calories. A fun size Snickers bar has approximately 80 calories. If you swap the apple for the candy bar, that is going to be much more filling and give you more to eat than a tiny candy bar for almost the same calories.
- Moderation is key – Don’t take the above tips and think “Well this is going to be miserable.” It doesn’t have to be! If you make smart choices for most of the day or for several days out of the week, you can afford to have a treat every now and then! It’s all about give and take. If you want to have a muffin for breakfast, limit carbohydrates at lunch. If that piece of chocolate is calling your name, be mindful of fat and sugar the rest of the day. Nothing is bad in moderation!
- Avoid empty calories – Sodas, Sweetened teas & coffees, creamer, sauces & dressings can all be offenders of using up large amounts of our calories. For 1 can soda, you could eat a large bowl of low fat ice cream. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the ice cream! Opt for diet sodas, lower calorie sweeteners and swap your coffee creamer for sugar free or fat free milk. Limit salad dressings, sugary BBQ sauces and oil-based condiments!
- Take it 1 day at a time – Doing a complete diet overhaul is not always a good idea. If you make small changes each day or each week, they will add up and create a difference over time! Start with cutting back on sodas and sugar. Next week, aim to eat protein at every meal, the next week try to walk for 10 minutes every day! Small changes lead to big differences!
- Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and trans fat – These things cannot be completely avoided, but by limiting them you can reverse high blood pressure, cholesterol and manage these conditions without medication. Same goes for sugar. Many seniors are considered pre-diabetic and by limiting sugar and starchy carbohydrates, you can reverse these conditions.
- Aim to be more active! – Make exercise a part of your day. Walk for 10 minutes first thing in the morning or at lunch time. Do an aerobic DVD or play with your grandchildren outside. By prioritizing exercise, you can loosen stiff joints, increase energy and be able to do more over time! It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
We hope these tips are helpful and make living a healthier lifestyle a little bit easier! Everyone’s lifestyle is going to be different, but by applying these tips and finding what works for you, you can begin a journey toward a healthier, happier, more active Senior you!
Image Credit: http://www.heretohelphomecare.com/importance-of-senior-nutrition/