Mainstream media recommend dozens of health tips to keep your body healthy as you age. There’s keto diet, new exercise techniques, and green juices. But nothing can beat the traditional yet most effective tip of them all–observing proper diet.
A healthy body starts with what you put into your stomach. The food you eat will dictate your physique, mental sharpness, bone strength, and overall health.
But don’t worry. Healthy eating does not mean restricting your food intake and sacrificing your favorites. It is more about:
- Balancing your food consumption.
- Maintaining discipline in the kinds of food you eat.
- Knowing how to enjoy delicious meals using wholesome ingredients.
Whether you’re living with family, independently, or in a senior living community, it is essential to make smart eating choices. So, here are some helpful tips for seniors who want to enjoy a long and healthy life!
1. Eat Plenty of Greens
Remember those moments where you encourage your kids to eat their spinach to become strong like Popeye? Well now, it’s your turn to walk the talk.
Green, leafy vegetables are packed with so many nutrients that doctors call it the ultimate superfood. Your aging body needs its nutritional content to keep your body systems healthy and functional. This includes:
- Vitamin K to increase bone strength and blood clotting (kale and spinach)
- Fiber to help your digestion and metabolism (green tea)
- Antioxidants to keep your body free from toxins.
- Vitamins and minerals that strengthen your body’s immune system (cabbage, lettuce, and microgreens)
2. Add Variety to your Plate
Eating different kinds of nutritious foods ensures that your body gets all the nutrients that it needs. Also, adding variety to your daily meals helps you enjoy your food!
This does not mean that you should overeat any food that you like just to add variety. The key is to eat less unhealthy treats and consume more nutritious ones.
Make sure that your plate contains all the five essential food groups: veggies, fruits, high-fiber food, lean meat, and good fat.
Plus, mixing it up lets you get creative and savor each meal that you come up with!
3. Choose Good Fat
Contrary to popular belief, a no-fat diet is a big NO-NO for a senior like you. You should focus more on the kind of fat you take in rather than the amount of it. This is because of the existence of two types of fat–good fat and bad fat.
Your body needs good fat (e.g., omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) to maintain optimal brain and body functions. Some of its benefits include:
- Controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Reducing plaque build-up in your heart.
- Promotes cell growth.
- Enhances brain function.
So, stack-up on foods like salmon, tuna, herring, avocados, nuts, and red cheese to increase your good cholesterol levels!
4. Look for Specific Nutrients
Seniors with underlying medical conditions need to fill their system with foods to help them fight their disease. For example, a senior with diabetes should focus on eating healthy carbs that are low in sugar. While adults suffering from goiter need to eat plenty of seafood to get the iodine that their body needs.
5. Practice Healthy Cooking Habits
The healthiest foods can go to waste if you don’t make the right choices when it comes to their preparation.
This is because some cooking methods, like frying foods in processed vegetable oil, do nothing but increase your risk of developing several fatal diseases. Moreover, it only adds more dangerous substances to your body, like trans fat, acrylamide, and high calories.
This is why it’s better to cook and prepare your own meals rather than buy from restaurants and fast-food chains. If you’re residing in a senior living community, you can talk to the staff to make sure that they prepare your meals the way you like them–tasty but healthy.
Some healthy food preparation practices to keep in mind are as follows:
- Cook foods by baking, grilling, broiling, braising, steaming, and poaching.
- Avoid overcooking your veggies to keep their nutrients intact.
- Use organic or fresh ingredients like herbs and spices.
- Remove the skin and visible fat on your meats.
6. Drink Plenty of Water
Another underrated but vital tip to keep your body healthy is to stay hydrated. Water is also a nutrient that’s equally as important as vitamins and minerals.
Your body needs at least 1.7 liters of 7.1 cups of water every 24 hours. Your system requires it to function properly and use it to repair, regenerate, and maintain balance.
In addition, your body loses water every day through sweating, breathing, and digestion. So, it is essential to let the body recuperate by drinking plenty of fluids.
Even if you don’t feel thirsty, you still need to drink up. This is because your body’s thirst signal weakens as you age. So, even if your water reservoir is already depleted, you still won’t feel thirsty. Thus, causing you to be severely dehydrated.
Some great tips to help you remember to drink water includes:
- Bringing a water thermos or bottle wherever you go.
- Setting the alarm every hour to remind you to drink one glass of water.
- For adults in senior living communities, have your caregiver remind you to drink water before and after your meals.
- Replace other beverages with water.
7. Check the Label
It would be better to stick with fresh produce from markets and organic ingredients. But if you cannot avoid shopping in grocery stores, then at least check the nutritional facts label of every food product you buy.
Be a smart consumer and watch out for harmful ingredients like added sugars, trans fat, and sodium.
8. Follow the Recommended Serving
Healthy eating includes knowing the proper amount of food you should consume each day. If you don’t have an underlying illness, you can follow the American Heart Association’s food serving recommendation for seniors.
These suggested servings are tailored depending on your age and body type. It allows you to eat healthily and achieve a healthy weight without giving up your favorite dishes.