Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. Eating well may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.
Your body needs nutrients to function at its best. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water. You can get these nutrients from a variety of foods, and shouldn’t worry about your diet becoming restrictive.
In order to have a well-rounded, nutritious diet:
- Choose a variety of healthy foods
- Avoid empty calories, which are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients, such as chips, cooks, soda and alcohol
- Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated and trans fats
- Limit salt intake – use lemon juice, spices and herbs to add flavor
- Eat many different colors and types of vegetables and fruits
- Make sure at least half of your grains are whole grains
- Eat only small amounts of solid fats and foods with added sugars
- Eat seafood regularly
As you age, your sense of taste and smell may change. Foods you used to enjoy may seem to have lost flavor. Certain medications can also change your perception of taste. They can also make you feel less hungry. If you are experiencing a change in your appetite or your taste, talk to your doctor about trying different a medicine routine. If a change in medications is not possible, add herbs and spices to your food to enhance the flavor. Just keep an eye on the salt content of your additions, as many spice mixes include salt.
The older you get, the harder it is for you to recognize your own thirst. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of liquids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, instead drink liquids regularly throughout the day. You don’t have to get all your water from drinking. You can fulfill your water requirements from a mix of drinks, soup, fruit, and vegetables.
In order to eat healthier, you can begin by taking small steps. For example, one week make the commitment to cut out sugary drinks such as soda and artificial juices; the next week cut out fast food, and so on. Making one change at a time can make the switch to a nutritious diet easier to handle.
If you have trouble cooking healthy meals for yourself, look into getting help with your meals from family members, friends, or caregivers. This can also give you someone to enjoy your meals with.
Depending on any conditions you currently face, there may be certain foods which are especially helpful to your diet. There may also be foods you should be avoiding with certain conditions or medications. Check with your doctor about foods you should avoid or include in your regular diet. You should also discuss with your regular health care professional any side effects of changing your diet.