4 Ways Seniors Can Eat Healthier

Mealtime is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time where both you and your loved one can fuel up before starting your day, during your day, and when the day has ended. Food is not just delicious—it is essential! 

If this is so, why do so many Americans consume diets that fall short in the important nutrients they need? One common answer: time! Many people—especially busy and hardworking caregivers—can not seem to find time to create both healthy and satisfying meals for themselves and their loved ones. Also, they just might be unsure of what to shop for. 

So, how can you get around this and stick to a healthy diet?

In this blog, we will talk about four different healthy eating tips for seniors. Continue reading to learn about these! 

1. Be a smart shopper. 

As mentioned above, many Americans have diets that have little of the important nutrients and vitamins and minerals they need. In fact, average American diets go beyond the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories, which are calories from solid fats and added sugars, refined grains, sodium, and saturated fat. So, what can be done to help this? Well, there are a few solutions. To start, you might want to begin with changing how you buy food for yourself or your loved one. 

When roaming down the grocery store aisles (or getting a pick-up order or grocery store delivery service), remember to choose your foods wisely. Think about what has the most nutritional value. This means getting more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats (More on nutrition from Eat Right Nutrition), and fewer foods that are often filled with sugars, lots of sodium, saturated or trans fats, and preservatives.

If you are concerned about going over your budget when it comes to buying fresh and healthy foods, make sure to always check for coupons and deals on items that lean more on the expensive side. This includes organic foods. Shop around to see which grocery store or meal delivery service allows you to get the most bang for your buck so that you are not overspending. 

2. Make the freezer do the work.

Part of eating healthier comes with preparing your own foods if you are able to. But, if you live a very busy lifestyle, you might think that you have absolutely no time to cook meals for yourself.

Well, think again! We all have at least a few hours during the week where we have a little bit of free time. Why not use these moments to prepare meals? 

The good thing is that your freezer can (and should!) do most of the work. If you have already done your shopping for the week and have gathered all of the ingredients you need to prepare healthy meals, take some time to cook some of your favorite dishes all at once. 

Then, store individual portions into freezer-safe containers, place these into your freezer, and reheat the meals throughout the week. This makes it extremely easy to have something ready to eat on those busy days when you can’t bother to cook for yourself or your loved one. This can also be done with snacks. 

Also, it is nice to know that you can control the ingredients that are in your meals. This way, you will not be consuming foods that are not beneficial to your health. For example, many foods contain an excess of sodium that can heighten the risk for high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Control your portion sizes. 

Do you or your loved one frequently find yourselves eating until you feel stuffed? As you may have already heard many times before, it is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing. With that being said, as you continue to grow older, it is important to be mindful of your eating habits.

Individuals who are age 50 or older and follow the U.S.-Style Healthy Eating Pattern choose foods from these every day: two to three cups of vegetables, one and a half to two cups of fruits, five to eight ounces of grains, three cups of dairy which is either fat-free or low-fat, five to six and a half ounces of protein foods, and five to seven teaspoons of oils. 

While you do not have to measure out your foods in this way, it might be helpful. Also, if you happen to eat out or opt for take-out, remember to monitor your portion sizes in those scenarios as well. For example, if the portion size you are given is too large, try splitting the meal in half. 

5. Speak to a dietitian. 

If you are unsure where to begin when it comes to eating healthier, or helping your loved one eat healthier, you may want to speak with a dietician to create a meal plan that works for you or your loved one’s nutritional needs. 

While there is additional information on how to eat healthy meals and what to prepare as a senior, many older adults suffer from multiple health problems that can require very specific guidelines on what to eat due to the medications they have to take, as well as other factors such as being at a higher risk for developing health diseases. 

With this being said, it is important that you get accurate advice when it comes to knowing what you or your loved one should be eating on a daily basis. This includes getting help on topics like how to maintain a healthy weight. Keep in mind that many seniors also suffer from malnutrition (Eat Right Nutrition shares more on this as well as Mayo Clinic). 

Eat Your Best So That You Can Be at Your Best. 

There are many other healthy eating tips out there, but these are just the ones we chose to highlight. As older adults, it is increasingly important for you and your loved one to eat healthy, well-balanced meals every single day so that you can have a great quality of life.

If you happen to live far away from a grocery store, or simply find it difficult to shop for yourself, do not be hesitant to ask for help from others. You may want to consider ordering meals from meal delivery services that offer healthier options for you or your loved one. 

At Royal Estates of El Paso, our menus are reviewed by a dietitian to make sure that all of our offerings meet dietary guidelines for the specific residents we serve. Visit our website to learn more about our community. 

How do you make sure you or your loved one eat healthy meals throughout the week? 

Sources: 

1. “Facts and Statistics.” HHS.gov, https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html. Accessed 27 July 2020. 

2. “Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Older Adults.” Eat Right Nutrition, https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/healthy-weights-for-healthy-older-adults. Accessed 29 July 2020. 

3. “Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/sodium-and-salt. Accessed 29 July 2020. 

4. “Serving and Portion Sizes: How Much Should I Eat?” National Institute on Aging, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/serving-and-portion-sizes-how-much-should-i-eat#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20people%2050%20or,Grains%E2%80%945%20to%208%20ounces. Accessed 28 July 2020.

5. “Sample Menus: Healthy Eating for Older Adults.” National Institute on Aging, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sample-menus-healthy-eating-older-adults. Accessed 28 July 2020. 

6. “10 Reasons to Visit an RDN.” Eat Right Nutrition, https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/learn-more-about-rdns/10-reasons-to-visit-an-rdn. Accessed 29 July 2020. 

7. “How an RDN Can Help With Malnutrition.” Eat Right Nutrition, https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-an-rdn-can-help-with-malnutrition#:~:text=Undernutrition%20can%20make%20it%20harder,improve%20their%20overall%20nutritional%20status.. Accessed 29 July 2020. 

8. “Senior Health: How to Prevent and Detect Malnutrition.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/senior-health/art-20044699. Accessed 28 July 2020. 

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