One of the easiest steps you can take to stay in charge of your health is to eat right. As simple as it sounds, it can make all the difference in how you feel and function, as your choice of foods will have a significant impact on your physical and cognitive well-being. Healthy food choices can also be inspiring and delicious.
The Benefits of Healthy Diet
There are several advantages to eating healthy, but three of the primary benefits are:
- Helps you to maintain your optimum weight
- Provides needed energy and fuel for your body and mind
- Lowers your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses
Nutritional Needs Change With Age
As you age, you might begin noticing changes in your appetite, activity levels and ability to burn calories effectively. If you don’t adapt to these changes, you may discover your weight and overall health are affected.
Here are a few observations of how age impacts your nutritional needs:
To maintain a healthy weight, most older adults don’t require as many calories as they previously did. You may be less mobile or active, which can mean changes in muscle mass and a slowing of your metabolism, resulting in burning fewer calories. If you continue to eat the same amount of food as you did before these changes occurred, weight gain is likely.
You may find yourself with less of an appetite or notice that your sense of taste and smell has diminished. It’s not easy to eat when you’re not feeling hungry. Although eating less can help you maintain your weight if you’re less active than before, you’ll still want to ensure that you’re receiving enough of the nutrients needed to support your overall health.
- Certain medical conditions
If you develop specific chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol as you grow older, your physician may recommend significant changes to your diet, as eating (or avoiding) certain foods can help treat these conditions or prevent them from worsening.
Certain medications can also affect your appetite and may interact adversely with particular foods. If you’re starting a new prescription, your doctor will be able to advise you if your diet needs to be changed or monitored, including which foods to avoid and whether to take it before, during or after meals.
- Your home life
Changes in your personal life like the loss of a loved one or a change in health are more common as you grow older and can lead to depression or a loss of interest in food. If this occurs, it’s important to not skip meals or substitute them with unhealthy snacks or processed foods. Instead, try to make an extra effort to eat well.
Healthy Diet Choices for Your Body and Mind
There are a few general diet rules that can help keep you on track. If your efforts are focused on including healthy ingredients, you’ll find yourself eating better and reaping the benefits.
Although your calorie needs will likely decrease as you age, your body and mind’s nutrient needs will tend to stay the same or even increase. Don’t sacrifice what you require with poor choices. Look for foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other needed nutrients. Limiting foods high in sugar, saturated and trans fats and salt will also be greatly beneficial.
Try to get the majority of your daily calories from nutrient-dense foods. Save the opposites, such as those high in calories but low in nutrition, for an occasional treat.
Build your diet around these foods:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean protein
If you need a break and a little convenience
It’s a good idea to avoid processed food, but when you need a little convenience, consider healthier options like these:
- Frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables
- Frozen unsweetened fruit or low-sugar canned fruit
- Precooked grilled turkey or rotisserie chicken
- Low-sodium canned soups or stews
- Bagged salads or coleslaw
- Instant oatmeal
- Steamer bags of vegetables
Don’t forget to stay hydrated
As you age, you may find you no longer having a strong sense of thirst. If this happens, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to hydrate instead of waiting until you feel like you need to drink.
Some older adults are surprised when they realize they have had very little liquid all day. Strive for eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water, juice or tea a day. And remember, soup or water-rich fruits and vegetables also provide hydration.
How a Senior Living Community Can Support Your Healthy Diet
One of the many benefits of a senior living community is the active lifestyle you’ll find, which contributes greatly to a healthy appetite. In addition, having opportunities to share a meal with others also adds the advantages of senior living.
Beyond the convenience of letting someone else do the shopping, cooking and clean-up, you’ll appreciate the delicious dining programs offered. You’ll find chef-prepared meal choices that not only taste great, but also appeal to the eye, something even more important when you don’t naturally feel hungry or thirsty.
Life at Eskaton Communities
The word Eskaton means “dawn of a new day.” In our communities, we see each day as an opportunity to enhance the lives of our residents. We’ve been serving the Sacramento region and Northern California for over 50 years.
The Eskaton Difference starts with our life-enriching programs and collaborative partnerships. With a national reputation for innovation, we focus on creating communities that provide our residents everything they need for purposeful living. We invite you to visit one of our award-winning communities to discover some of the benefits we offer, such as:
- Private residences
- Delicious and nutritious meals
- Social opportunities to meet and make new friends
- Creative activities and therapies
- Fitness centers and exercise classes
- Housekeeping services
- Transportation services
- 24-hour staffing
- Free Wi-Fi
- And much, much more!
If you’re considering whether senior living could be the best choice for you or your loved one, we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing.
To schedule a personalized tour, call us at 1-866-ESKATON or (1-866-375-2866) or visit eskaton.org.