Good nutrition is important at every age. However, not enough of us are getting the essential vitamins and minerals we need to enjoy a long, healthy life. There are many reasons for this, as it’s often easier to grab, store and eat heavily processed foods. However, relying on processed foods which have been stripped of their nutritional value can negatively impact your physical, mental and emotional health over time.
Fortunately, it’s easy to modify your diet so your body gets the nutrients it needs to stay active and healthy for years to come. But what does it mean to eat a healthy diet, and why is it so essential to our overall well-being, especially as we age?
Nutritional Challenges for Older Adults
It can be challenging for older adults to get the nutrition they need from their diet. This is due to several factors, including:
Changes in Appetite and Taste
As we age, our sense of taste and smell can decline, which can make food less appealing. This can lead to a decrease in appetite and a reluctance to eat certain foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Older adults may experience physical limitations that make it difficult to prepare or eat healthy foods. For example, they may have trouble chopping vegetables or opening cans.
Older adults who are socially isolated may be less motivated to cook or eat healthy foods, especially if they are eating alone. This can mean frequently eating restaurant meals — which, though delicious and fast — lack the nutrients one needs to be healthy.
Some medical conditions or medications can affect appetite or nutrient absorption, making it more difficult for older adults to maintain a healthy diet.
How to Start Eating Healthier
Despite the above challenges, making small, sustainable changes to your diet can have a big impact on your overall health and well-being. Here are some tips on where to start. Be sure to speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Focus on Healthy Foods You Love
The first and easiest tip to eating healthy is to focus on nutritious food you love. For example, if you need more fiber in your diet and you love carrots – a vegetable high in fiber – look for new ways to enjoy the foods you love. Search for recipes like honey garlic butter carrots, sauteed carrots and carrot fries. However, go easy on the carrot cake; you’ll want to limit the amount of sugar in your diet to stay healthy.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
For those who don’t have much of an appetite or are not eating enough, eating smaller, nutrient-packed meals can help you get the nourishment your body needs. A light breakfast of whole grain cereal, followed by a pre-noon snack like a banana or celery and peanut butter can keep you fueled throughout the day.
Add Healthy Snacks
If you plan to eat smaller meals more often, you can also add healthy snacks to your diet to help you stay full the whole day.
- Unsalted nuts
- Veggies with hummus
- Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs
Invite Friends For Meals
Make eating a social event! A meal always tastes better when you have friends or family to share it with. Invite your loved ones over for lunch or dinner, plan weekly brunches, host a potluck or explore local restaurants together.
Eat Healthy and Delicious Meals at Beacon Hill
It’s easy to live a healthy and vibrant life at Beacon Hill! From tasty and nutritious meals at our on-site dining venues to custom wellness plans, we give you all the tools you need to be successful. If you’re interested in a community setting that enriches your physical, mental, emotional and dietary well-being, come see what life is like at Beacon Hill. Contact us or complete the form below to learn more.