The Benefits of Eating Healthy as You Age
As we get older, our bodies change and become less efficient at processing and using nutrients from our food. Additionally, many seniors live with chronic conditions that an unhealthy diet can worsen. With all these factors at play, eating healthy and nutritious foods as we age can help us stay healthy and independent.
Let’s examine why proper nutrition is so important and the benefits of eating healthy as you age.
The Benefits of a Proper Diet
A proper and healthy diet is often about more than just maintaining a healthy weight. Processed foods, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy items can lead to a host of problems and debilitating health conditions. However, a healthy diet can have many benefits that increase longevity and quality of life.
It can also:
- Lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases
- Slow the progression of existing chronic conditions
- Improve cognitive function and mental health
- Boost energy levels and physical strength
- Aid in recovery from illness and injury
As you can see, proper nutrition is essential as we age. It’s important to understand, though, that the nutritional needs of older people vary depending on their age, health status, and activity level.
Creating a Well-Balanced Diet
Creating a well-balanced diet that meets our unique needs is crucial to stay healthy as we age.
In general, a healthy diet should include the following:
- Fruits and vegetables of all different colors
- Lean protein sources such as legumes, fish, chicken, and eggs
- Whole grains such as oats and quinoa
- Healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- Plenty of water
Of course, everyone is different. Not everyone will like the same dishes, and some may have dietary restrictions due to allergies or chronic conditions.
Caregivers and older people should also be aware of common nutritional deficiencies in seniors, such as vitamin D, calcium, and iron, and ensure these essential nutrients are regularly consumed.
Tips for Getting Seniors to Eat Healthy Foods
As a caregiver, you know that getting seniors to eat nutritious foods can be challenging. They may be set in their ways, picky eaters, or simply not interested in food. However, caregivers can do a few things to encourage seniors to eat healthily.
Slowly Implement Changes
If a senior is used to eating a certain way, drastically changing their diet overnight is likely to be met with resistance. Instead, try slowly introducing new foods and healthier options into their diet.
For example, if a senior is used to drinking sugary juices, start by diluting them with water. Or, if they’re used to eating processed foods, try substituting healthier alternatives. Slowly making small changes like these will help seniors get accustomed to eating healthier without feeling like they’re making a big sacrifice.
Make Meals Enjoyable
Another way to encourage seniors to eat nourishing foods is to make meals enjoyable. You can do this by cooking their favorite foods, setting the table with nice dishes, and playing soft music in the background.
Caregivers should also make an effort to sit and eat with seniors whenever possible. Eating together is a great way to encourage conversation and bonding and may make seniors more likely to try new foods.
Try Smoothies and Soups
Smoothies and soups are easy to eat and packed with nutrients. They’re also a great way to get seniors to eat fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise consume.
When making smoothies, use a high-quality blender to ensure the texture is smooth and easy to eat. Also, add a little fat, such as nut butter or avocado, to help seniors feel full and satisfied.
When making soups, choose recipes that are hearty and filling. Add plenty of vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to make them a complete meal.
Consider Using Supplements
In some cases, seniors may need to take supplements to guarantee they get all the nutrients they need. This is especially common in seniors who cannot get proper nutrition from their diet due to poor appetite, dental problems, or chronic conditions.
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining our health and well-being as we age. By preparing meals using fresh ingredients and eating a variety of nutritious foods, caregivers can help seniors enjoy all the benefits of good nutrition.
Many seniors require assistance when it comes to preparing meals and eating. If you’re caring for a senior and are concerned about their dietary habits, try using home care services for help. Home care workers can provide seniors with the assistance they need to eat healthy, nutritious meals.
At Visiting Angels Cincinnati West, our caregivers understand the importance of proper nutrition for seniors. We can provide the assistance your loved one needs to start a healthy diet and stay healthy and happy. Contact us online or call 513-598-6770 to learn more about our in-home care services for seniors.