Nutrition Tips for Seniors
As your body ages, your dietary needs change. For example, as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before — especially if your activity level isn’t what it used to be.
Your body also needs certain nutrients to stay healthy, including protein to fight muscle loss; fiber to prevent bowel-related issues; calcium and vitamin D for bone health; and vitamin B12 for making red blood cells and maintaining brain function. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.
To help you make healthy food choices, follow these eight nutrition tips for seniors:
1. Support strong muscles with lean protein.
Older adults need 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal for optimal muscle health. To bulk up your breakfast, opt for plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, or veggie sausages and a side of scrambled eggs. Seafood, poultry and fish are protein powerhouses. Beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are also great sources of protein.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, avoid constipation, improve eye health, and prevent or delay cognitive decline. It can also help you feel full with fewer calories, so you can control your weight and your waistline.
3. Know what a healthy plate looks like.
At most meals, try to fill half your plate with vegetables; a quarter of your plate with whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice or whole-wheat bread; and the final quarter of your plate with lean protein such as fish, poultry, beans or eggs. To see what a healthy plate looks like, use the USDA’s MyPlate as a guide.
4. Adjust portion sizes.
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy body weight, reduce portion sizes instead of sacrificing components of a balanced meal. If you need to gain a few pounds, try to increase your portions rather than eating foods that are high in added sugar and unhealthy saturated fat.
5. Eat when you’re hungry.
Some older adults find their appetite is greater in the morning and during the day, compared to evening. If so, try to have a healthy breakfast that includes protein, whole grains and fruit, along with a balanced afternoon meal. Then go light on dinner.
6. Read the label.
The nutrition facts label on packaged foods can help you make savvy food choices. It tells you the recommended serving size, number of calories per serving, and the percentage of nutrients per serving. Read the label to find items that are lower in fat, added sugars and sodium.
7. Stay hydrated.
Seniors are at greater risk of dehydration because they have less water in their bodies than younger adults. Persistent dehydration causes difficulty walking, confusion, rapid heart rate, and other more severe symptoms that can land you in the hospital. The best way to prevent this is to drink more water. Drinking coffee or tea is also a good way to hydrate. Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one or two servings per day, and limit juice to one small glass per day.
8. Ask your doctor about vitamins and supplements.
Not sure if you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy? Before you spend your hard-earned money on over-the-counter pills, talk with your doctor. You might just need to adjust your diet. It’s usually better to get the nutrients you need from food rather than a pill.
We make nutrition something to savor.
Dining at a Retirement Center Management community is always a treat. We work with top chefs and nutritionists to prepare healthy, delicious dishes made from scratch. From made-to-order waffles to grilled salmon, dining can be as fun or as fine as you want. To learn more about dining at a Retirement Center Management community near you, visit the Our Communities page.