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A guide to Healthy Eating for Older Adults

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

2 women eating a healthy meal.

Maintaining your overall health and well-being as you grow older heavily relies on adopting a nourishing diet. As time passes and your body undergoes changes, there's a heightened significance placed on specific nutrients that play a pivotal role in aiding the aging process. Here are several pointers to help you uphold a wholesome diet as you advance in years:

Nutrient dense foods:

Prioritize foods rich in nutrients. As the years go by, there's a growing need to extract optimum nourishment from your dietary choices. Concentrate on consuming foods abundant in essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial antioxidants. These include options like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and wholesome fats.

Bowls of nutrient dense foods.

Nutrient-dense foods are ones that provide high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients for a relatively few calories.

Here are some examples of nutrient-dense foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These options brim with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all while keeping calories in check. Think of leafy greens, berries, oranges, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

  • Whole grains: Including choices like quinoa, brown rice, and oats, whole grains provide abundant fiber, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to a reduced risk of chronic ailments.

  • Lean protein sources: When you consider lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and legumes, you're tapping into essential amino acids that aid in preserving muscle mass and strength.

  • Nuts and seeds: The likes of almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseed offer up a balanced blend of healthy fats, protein, and dietary fiber.

  • Dairy or alternatives: Traditional dairy items such as milk, yogurt, and cheese furnish a solid calcium source, while fortified non-dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, and yogurt offer a diverse nutrient profile.

  • Legumes: Lentils, black beans, and chickpeas fall into the legume category, packing valuable fiber, protein, and other key nutrients.

  • Fish: Varieties like salmon, sardines, and tuna boast omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health by curbing inflammation. Remember to diversify your selections, incorporate a spectrum of hues, and aim to include a source of each vital nutrient daily. Additionally, keep in mind that the nutrient density of food can also hinge on its preparation and cooking methods.

Limit Processed Foods:

Moderate your consumption of manufactured foods and extra sugars. These types of foods and sugars incorporated into them can play a role in excessive weight accumulation and the development of persistent health issues like diabetes and heart ailments. Rather, choose whole, natural foods.

A selection of unhealthy processed food.

Processed foods are foods that have been modified in some way through methods such as canning, freezing, drying, or adding preservatives, flavorings, or other ingredients.

Here are 10 examples of processed foods:

1. Convenience frozen meals: Meals for convenience, like frozen pizzas, lasagnas, and TV dinners, can frequently harbor substantial quantities of sodium, sugar, and fats that aren't beneficial for health.

2. Canned soups and sauces: Canned soups and sauces, often chosen for their convenience, tend to contain elevated levels of sodium and preservatives.

3. Snack options: Common snack choices such as chips, crackers, and popcorn often have excess salt and fat content.

4. Processed meat products: Processed meat items like bacon, sausages, and deli meats frequently come with heightened levels of sodium and preservatives.

5. Quick-prep noodles: Instant noodles, convenient though they may be, are often enriched with sodium and MSG.

6. Refined white bread: The refinement process for white bread leads to the loss of numerous essential nutrients.

7. Sugary breakfast cereals: Numerous breakfast cereals with added sugars can be lacking in beneficial nutrients.

8. Energy bars: Many energy bars, while marketed as wholesome, often contain substantial added sugars and artificial components.

9. Ready-made pastries: Pre-made pastries such as croissants, danishes, and donuts often house notable amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats.

10.Carbonated beverages: Soft drinks frequently boast significant added sugar levels and provide negligible nutritional value.

It remains crucial to stay mindful of these types of processed food choices and their potential health implications, striving to restrict their consumption. Instead, lean toward whole, unprocessed foods that are more closely aligned with their natural form. Consult the nutrition labels for ingredient information and nutritional details, as these can be valuable in recognizing processed foods.

Adequately address your protein intake. With the passing of years, our body's protein processing efficiency tends to decline. Therefore, it's crucial to incorporate protein into your dietary regimen to sustain muscle mass and strength. Optimal protein sources encompass lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes.

A healthy plate of food

Consider supplements when appropriate. Should you encounter challenges in acquiring sufficient quantities of specific nutrients from your dietary intake, such as vitamin D or calcium, consider the including dietary supplements. However, it's imperative to talk with with your healthcare provider prior to initiating any new supplement regime.

A tub of dietary supplements

Stay Hydrated:

A glass of water, vital for hydration

Staying adequately hydrated is vital for sustaining general well-being and can aid in warding off dehydration, which might result in tiredness, disorientation, and additional health issues. Strive to consume a minimum of eight cups of water daily.

Be aware of food safety.

As time progresses, your immune system might exhibit less vigor than it did in the past, potentially rendering you more prone to food-related ailments. Ensure that you meticulously handle and prepare foods to diminish any associated risks.

Don't forget to enjoy your food! Eating should be a pleasure and not a chore. Eating with others or trying new recipes can help make mealtime more enjoyable.

By following these guidelines, you contribute to ensuring the acquisition of necessary nutrients for upholding your well-being throughout the aging process. Keep in mind the option to consult with a medical professional or a registered nutrition specialist if any uncertainties arise regarding your dietary choices or nutritional requirements.

Sharon Shinwell, Clinical Hypnotherapist

Sharon Shinwell

Sharon has written and recorded several Self-Hypnosis downloadable sessions to address Health and Well-Being so why not take a look.

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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