As people age, a lot of things may change: sleeping habits, exercise routines, daily activities, and even your appetite. It’s important to keep a balance of all of these aspects of a healthy life, and maintaining a wholesome diet may just be the foundation to living well. Below are a few ways you can make sure your diet best supports your body as you age:
Make Sure to Balance Out Your Plate
Proportioning out all of the food groups each time you eat is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a simple Infographic called MyPlate that shows how much each food group should take up on your plate each meal. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has also created separate graphics for both men and women aged 51 or over on recommended daily serving sizes for each food group. These graphics are tailored to fit the specific dietary needs of aging. Keeping these in mind as you build your plate each meal can help reassure you that you’re meeting your nutritional needs each day.
Keep Things Colorful
There’s a lot of truth to the old adage that each meal should be colorful: Color in food often indicates that a food is nutrient-dense, which is incredibly important to seek out as you age. Eating a variety of foods is critical to making sure you’re getting all of the important nutrients you need to keep you body healthy. The American Heart Association provides recommendations for daily diet and lifestyle habits to make sure you have several options for how to fit in various nutrients every day. In general, the aging population should especially work to include lean protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy into their diet, which you can read more about here.
This rule seems simple, but it can be challenging to get this habit going. Staying hydrated throughout the day can help cushion your joints, help alleviate headaches or fatigue, and can also help regulate your appetite so that you’re mostly eating when you’re actually hungry.
Staying hydrated doesn’t have to simply mean drinking lots of water each day. Tea and coffee throughout the day can also be great options, but be mindful of the amounts of caffeine you may be absorbing with these options. As mentioned before, low-fat dairy options like milk can help you meet your dairy and hydrating needs. However, keep in mind to minimize your intake of sugary and salty drinks like soda throughout the day, as these can actually dehydrate you depending on how much you drink. Your doctor can be especially helpful in recommending the right kind of drinks to stay hydrated and healthy based on your needs.
Work with Your Needs
As you age, your appetite and eating habits may change with you. If your appetite is waning, work with your doctor to make sure you’re still meeting your daily calorie and nutrition needs to stay healthy. It may help to split up meals into several more meals of smaller size throughout the day, for instance.
Some foods may also be more difficult to eat. Steaming vegetables and eating softer fruits like berries can help you maintain a diet of softer but nutritious foods if it becomes harder to chew. Finely chopping or shredding fish and poultry can help with this, too.
Eating healthy as you age doesn’t have to be a significant life change, but it is important to make sure each day you meet your caloric and nutritional needs to maintain your health at any age. Following these simple rules can help you still enjoy your favorite foods while still aging happily and healthily.