We all want to age gracefully. As the years fly by it becomes more and more apparent we need to take care of ourselves to prevent or manage chronic diseases, stay active as long as possible, and look our best.
Nutritionists say basic food concepts are the same at any age, but over age 60 our metabolism slows down. Some nutrients are not as well absorbed, and thirst sensation decreases.
So we asked a geriatric nutritionist for healthy eating habits into our 60s, 70s and beyond (which means for some of us ice cream, fried clams and pizza are not actual food groups anymore…) Here’s what she said…
1. Eat a variety of foods
- Lean protein helps maintain muscle mass. Sources include meat, poultry and fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Fruits and vegetables are a good source of many essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Eat the Rainbow. All the colors represent different nutrients.
- Whole grains that are rich in B vitamins are essential for good brain and nerve function as well as providing many other benefits. They also are a good source of fiber.
- Low-Fat dairy is a good source of protein and calcium for teeth and bones.
2. Limit salt and sugar – this reduces the risk of hypertension and diabetes.
3. Drink plenty of ﬂuids – remember liquid calories do count. Choose, water, coffee tea for zero calories or low-fat milk and 100% juice. Avoid high sugar drinks and drink alcohol in moderation.
4. Pay attention to serving sizes – it’s possible to eat all the foods you love if you just watch the portion sizes (so maybe 1 slice of pizza instead of 3?). Calorie needs decrease as we age, so watching portions is even more important. Fill half your plate with vegetables. No seconds. myplate.gov is a good source for information on portion sizes. Also, check labels on packaged foods for portions.
5. Nutrients and vitamins – if you feel you can’t get all the nutrients you need from food it’s OK to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Avoid taking supplements of individual vitamins and minerals unless recommended by your physician. They are needed in very small amounts and some may be toxic at higher levels.
6. Exercise is important– we don’t need to run marathons, but we do need some kind of daily exercise. Using the TV remote doesn’t count.