LIVE YOUR HEALTH
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Check out our new blog by Dan Salco Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post.
5 Simple Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
To continue to stay healthy as we age, it’s incredibly important to switch up our eating and diet habits to ensure we’re both healthy and feeling well. And if health concerns pop up, there’s a good chance we’ll have to cut out a few things here and there to protect our bodies.
These dietary changes and restrictions may seem like a lot at first, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here are five simple healthy eating tips for seniors that will make a diet change less stressful and easier to stick with.
- Ensure your meals have the proper nutrients. When it’s time to eat, make sure your meal contains the nutrients that a senior needs the most. One of the most crucial nutrients we need later in life is calcium. Calcium is incredibly beneficial for maintaining bone health and for lowering blood pressure.
One obvious way to get calcium is through a glass of dairy milk. You can also get calcium from fortified orange juices and even non-dairy milks if you can’t consume dairy products. Green veggies provide a great source of calcium; you can munch on some broccoli, make a soup with kale or okra, or enjoy a smoothie with spinach. Other calcium-rich foods include sardines, edamame or tofu, black-eyed peas, white beans, sesame seeds and butternut squash.
It’s also important for seniors to consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 provides an array of health benefits, such as lower elevated triglyceride levels, less joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis, and possible protection from Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s also great for reducing inflammation, which can lead to the development of heart disease and cancer.
To get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, you can take a supplement (with your doctor’s permission) or eat fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon and sardines that are rich in omega-3s. If you’re not into fish, you can also eat walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and egg yolks. Flax and hemp seeds are perfect for adding to smoothies, and you won’t even taste the difference.
- Stay hydrated. As we age, we don’t feel thirsty in the way we used to in our younger years. Consequently, many seniors don’t drink enough water which can lead to dehydration and other issues (dry mouth, lethargy, headaches, dry skin, dizziness).
The best way to tell if your body is dehydrated is to look at your urine. Urine should be clear, which indicates the body is hydrated. If it’s dark or looks cloudy, then it’s a sure sign you’re not getting enough water throughout the day.
To prevent symptoms of dehydration, one of the best things you can do is to drink a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning. Keep a glass of water nearby throughout the day, which serves as a reminder to take a sip every so often.
- Make changes gradually. Drastically changing your diet and cutting out your favorite foods all at once can be scary. That’s why it’s helpful and less intimidating to make changes to your diet gradually. Start by making one healthy swapeach day and then make more changes as time goes on.
For example, swap out the morning bowl of cereal for some oatmeal once or twice a week. Then, you can gradually work up to having oatmeal on most mornings of the week. You can also add a drink with plenty of calcium or a nutrient-rich smoothie at breakfast time as well. Or if you’re normally reaching for an unhealthy bag of chips in the afternoon, make a smoothie your afternoon snack instead.
Small changes over time will help you stick to your new healthy eating habit because you’ve eased into the changes. It will feel more doable and less like you’re depriving yourself of the things you want.
- Limit your sodium intake. Consuming a lot of sodium isn’t good no matter what age you are. However, it becomes especially problematic in your senior years. For those who have developed high blood pressure in their older age, reducing sodium intake is going to make a major difference in their overall health.
To round out a meal and make it more satisfying and filling, you can easily add fruits and vegetables or even beans and brown rice. These are all great options that are naturally low in sodium, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much salt in one day.
- Make it a family affair. When it comes to changing your diet, no one likes to be alone on the journey. If you’re sitting down to the dinner table to have a salad while everyone else is eating pizza, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel bad about it. Get the whole family involved with smarter eating choices so no one feels left out.
Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post. In his precariously free time, he writes about the many facets of the meal delivery industry at FoodBoxHQ.com. Connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.