As we grow older, our bodies require different things. The one change we might notice most is that our metabolisms slow down. If you don’t pay attention to this fun new feature of your body, you may experience weight gain as you age. Unfortunately, weight gain in seniors may lead to more frequent trips to the doctor’s office, and you’ll have new senior health concerns and everyday annoyances overall.
To avoid that, we’ve collected four useful tips on healthy eating for seniors:
1. Read the Nutrition Label
Whole foods are the healthiest, hands down. But if you’re looking for some pasta to go with your salad or some cottage cheese to mix with your orange slices, take a look at the ingredients on the label. If there’s a choice between a box of pasta with ten ingredients, and a box of pasta with four ingredients, go with the four-ingredient box. You’ll also want to compare amounts of added sugars, sodium, and fats. Some fats, of course, are good for you in small doses, and you don’t want to cut all fats out of your diet. But knowing that you can get the same sense of satisfaction out of a less calorie-dense kind of cookie will give you a sense of scale when grocery shopping.
2. Aim for Mindfulness
Sometimes, when you feel hungry, it may be simply out of habit or because you’re dehydrated. If you’re always used to eating a snack at 10:00 a.m., but you’re still full from a huge breakfast, that’s a sign that you should try drinking a little water instead. Give it 20 minutes or so—that’s usually how long it takes your brain to catch up to your stomach—and then see if you’re still peckish.
Keep in mind that some symptoms of dehydration, including headache, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, often look like symptoms of hunger too. If you’re trying to cut back on calories, try sipping on some water, tea, or coffee before getting a healthy snack.
3. Use a Plate
Have you ever found yourself grazing in front of an open fridge only to realize you’ve just eaten a meal’s worth of calories—for a snack? This kind of mindless nibbling can quickly contribute to eating unhealthy amounts of food. To prevent this, make sure to use a plate when you eat any meal or snack and sit down to enjoy it. This not only makes us eat a little slower, but it also presents the food in a way that your brain really appreciates. This is a mindfulness practice and helps your brain catch up to your stomach, as with dehydration.
4. Nuts About Nutrients
As we age, we need more nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and sources of fiber to keep us full and healthy. Make sure you enjoy a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Don’t skimp on the lean proteins, including eggs, beans, and seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. It’s important that you get a lot of vitamin D for good senior health—your bones will thank you.
At the Mission at Agua Fria, we service three chef-prepared meals every day that are bursting with healthy nutrients and flavor. Reach out to us if you’d like to know more.