The adage “You are what you eat,” has particular significance as you age. Throughout your adult life you’re advised to eat smart and make healthy choices to be your best self. But let’s be honest, doing that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Couple that with dietary needs related to health conditions, medications, bone health, gut health, immune function – the list goes on – and nutrition becomes even more complex the older you get. Who has time for it all? And who can make sense of it? We can help with these 5 Diet and Nutrition Tips for Active Seniors.
Simplifying Diet and Nutrition for Active Seniors
- Diet Dos
The National Institute on Aging recommends these daily servings for seniors:
- Fruits — 1½ to 2½ cups
- Vegetables — 2 to 3½ cups
- Grains – 5 to 10 ounces
- Protein foods — 5 to 7 ounces
- Dairy foods — 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
- Oils — 5 to 8 teaspoons
- Keep the amount of solid fats, added sugars and sodium (salt) to a minimum
And don’t forget the water! In general adults need about 64 ounces of fluid every day (through beverages or food), but that amount can vary with heat, strenuous activity, medications and health conditions so check with your doctor on what’s best for you.
- Nutrient Know-How
And resources such as ChooseMyPlate.Gov can help you learn how to build healthy meals and better understand how to read nutrition labels.
- Smart Shopping
For the diet and nutrition an active senior needs, smart grocery shopping is key. Plan your weekly menu ahead of time to avoid impulse buying and to stay on budget. Also take advantage of sales to stock your pantry with canned vegetables, beans, fruits and dried foods such as rice and pasta. You can also buy in bulk and freeze into smaller portions that you can thaw and cook later.
To skip the hassle of grocery shopping altogether, check your local store for online ordering with curbside pickup and/or delivery options, and take a look at meal delivery options such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Keep in mind however; the convenience will cost you more.
- In the Kitchen
If you’re cooking for one or two, you can make large meals to freeze into smaller portions. Menu ideas include soups, stews, chilies, roasts, casseroles and any kind of slow-cooker meal. You can even make fresh side dishes each time you thaw out a portion to keep it interesting. What’s more, the sides can also be multipurpose. Have rice as a side one night and use it for a casserole the next. Have chicken as a main dish in one meal and use leftovers in sandwiches for another.
Add more variety and convenience with a dedicated cooking day a couple of times a month where you make several meals to portion and freeze. Then you avoid having the same meal multiple times in a row.
- Time-Saving Tech
Active seniors are more tech savvy than ever and you can take advantage of that to keep your diet and nutrition on track as well. Save yourself some of the legwork with apps such as:
- Food Network in the Kitchen — Offers over 50,000 recipes in categories such as Healthy, Weeknight Dinners, Quick and Easy.
- Fooducate — Provides nutritional information from barcodes, helps you understand nutritional labels and offers healthy suggestions. You can also manually enter a meal’s nutritional information and track calories and exercise.
- Shop well — Barcode scanning and shopping assistant that rates foods and grocery items according to your nutritional objectives and/or dietary restrictions and provides nutritional pointers.
- Nutrients — Offers search for specific foods or ingredients with breakdown of nutritional content, or for particular nutrients to find foods with that nutrient. You can also customize recipes with a specific mix of ingredients.
- Livestrong.com’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker — Allows you to log food/water intake, track consumption habits and includes database of over 2 million food items, a barcode scanner to log prepackaged food and a tool for creating custom meal items. Also doubles as an exercise log with Google Fit and Apple HealthKit integration and support for a variety of wearables.
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