What we eat impacts our health, but it may become even more important as we grow older. Seniors can be at a bigger risk for malnourishment if they don’t maintain a good diet. This in turn can lead to fatigue and depression, as well as a weakened immune system, anemia and digestive and heart problems.
Eating the right foods and in the right amounts can provide these advantages:
An energy boost
Improved immune system
Improved mental sharpness
Help in maintaining a healthy weight
Improved focus and memory
A reduction in risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, bone loss and cancer
May lower the risk or delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
As you grow older, you’ll need to be aware of all that healthy eating for seniors should include. Pay attention to the nutritional needs of your body and be mindful of other habits that might be developing.
Here are a few changes that may occur:
1. You’ll typically have a need for fewer calories than you did when you were younger, but you’ll still require the right nutrients to fuel your body.
2. After the age of 40, your metabolism begins slowing down. If you become less physically active but continue to eat the same amount as you always have, you can gain weight.
3. Older adults often lose their sensitivity to salt and so may be adding more to taste. Try substituting spices and herbs for seasoning.
4. Seniors who live alone often begin substituting food that is quick and easy but not necessarily nutritious in place of the meals they used to cook.
5. Seniors who are experiencing the feelings of loneliness may find themselves losing their appetite or overeating.
6. If getting to the grocery store has become more difficult, you may not be able to get the food you need for healthy cooking.
7. Several conditions can cause an older adult to lose their appetite, including medications and lack of activity. It’s hard to make yourself eat if you don’t feel hungry.
8. Older adults more easily lose their sense of smell or taste, making eating more of an effort or challenge.
9. You may develop problems chewing or swallowing as you grow older. Check with your doctor or dentist if you’re experiencing this.
If you’re unsure of what diet would be best for you, visit with your doctor or a nutritionist who can provide a plan specifically for you.
Here are a few basic ideas in the meantime to get you headed down the right road:
Include more fruits and vegetables for nutrients without the high calories
Increase servings of whole grains
Switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy, but make sure you’re getting enough calcium
Reduce servings of red meat and substitute fish, lean meats, poultry and eggs
Include beans, nuts and seeds in your meals or snacks
Avoid empty calories that offer few nutrients but many calories, such as cookies and soft drinks
Eat foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat
Stay hydrated. You may lose your trigger of being thirsty so find ways to remind yourself to drink
Keep foods as natural as possible and avoid processed foods
Talk to your doctor about possibly adding vitamin supplements
Most people enjoy the taste of sweet or salty treats. But if you’re trying to eat better, try adjusting your attitude. Instead of dwelling on what you’ll be giving up, be positive and remind yourself of how much healthier you’ll be.
Make small changes and build from there. Don’t go from eating whatever you want to a meal of strictly salads and greens. Try adding a salad to your normal dinner or substitute fried potatoes with a baked sweet potato. Have a small portion of dessert and add fruit slices to fill up if needed.
Remember that it doesn’t take long to change your tastes. People that reduce the amount of sugar in their diets often say it takes very little now for a food to taste sweet to them. Give yourself a little time and see how different you may feel.
1. Especially if you’re now living alone, you may find yourself skipping meals or substituting something quick, processed or sweet. A big advantage of independent living communities is the ease in making new friends. Sharing meals together can greatly improve your appetite and your mood.
2. You don’t have to worry If shopping or cooking has become more difficult, as you can choose to be a part of the dining program as well as eat at home. And communities know how to prepare nutritious food that’s also delicious. Those that offer chef-prepared meals understand that making food appealing can help improve appetites.
3. If inactivity is causing you to lose your appetite, that’s another easy fix if you move to an independent living community. It’s so much easier when you can take advantage of the fitness center or activities that are all on-site. Once you begin moving your appetite can improve.
You’ll find a wonderful selection of delicious chef-prepared menu options to choose from at our Westminster at Lake Ridge independent living community. And we also offer you the choice for meals in our elegant dining room or to enjoy more casual fare in our café.
Regardless of where you eat, you’ll be served the freshest ingredients and have access to our dining services team for any special dietary needs or tastes.
And the benefits you’ll receive extend beyond your food choices. We provide a fitness center, a full monthly calendar of activities, social events and other amenities that will not only keep you engaged in life but provide excellent opportunities to meet and make new friends.
Please visit our website for more information or call (703) 420-7105 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.