Senior Nutrition & Diet Tips – Eating Healthy as You Age

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Cindy Nance

For older adults, the benefits of healthy eating include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Eating well as an older adult is all about fresh and colorful food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with friends.

Remember the old adage, you are what you eat? Make it your motto. When you choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins you’ll feel vibrant and healthy, inside and out. Good nutrition allows you to live longer and stronger, sharpens the mind and makes you feel better. Older adults can feel better immediately and stay healthy for the future by choosing healthy foods. A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age. Of course, balanced nutrition is more than calorie counting. There are many aspects to creating a nutritious lifestyle.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to swap a tried eating regiment for a tasty, well balanced eating plan. Avoid skipping meals – this causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to feeling sluggish and making poorer choices later in the day. Every season of life brings changes and adjustments to your body. Understanding what is happening will help you take control of your nutrition requirements. Malnutrition is a critical senior health issue caused by eating too little food, too few nutrients, and by digestive problems related to aging. Malnutrition causes fatigue, depression, weak immune system, anemia, weakness, digestive, lung, and heart problems, as well as skin concerns.

First and foremost, commit to keeping an open mind. Just because a food is healthy, it doesn’t mean it can’t be tasty as well. Focus on how you feel after eating well – this will help foster new habits and tastes. The more healthy food you eat, the better you’ll feel afterwards. To all my senior readers enjoy this holiday season with family and loved ones because you are the source of all the knowledge our young people will ever have. Commit to helping a young person on their way to a healthy diet in 2013.

For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.