The new year brings many resolutions and goals that people tend to forget about later on in the year. One of the most famous new year resolutions is weight management, and doing so involves making changes in nutrition. The National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and aging state that 1 in 4 older Americans has poor nutrition, which is due to imbalances in the average American diet. This diet contains 30% fat (which is often high in saturated fat) and more than 50% carbs that consist of high amounts of sugar. If you feel sluggish or not at your healthiest state, it is important that you evaluate what you eat and consider making dietary changes.
What is considered a healthy diet for seniors?
Since our body undergoes changes from middle to older adulthood, our diet may be different at an older age than when we were younger. A well-balanced diet includes consistent amounts of nutrient-rich foods that contain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fats. However, a common mistake is to consume too much of one of these nutrients and not enough of another, which leads to health problems and difficulty performing ADLs (activities of daily living). To ensure a well-balanced diet, you should focus on eating these types of foods:
- fruits and vegetables
- beans and nuts
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy
- lean protein
This is what a well-balanced diet should look like, according to the Department of Nutrition and the Harvard School of Public Health:
Considering Medical Conditions and Medication
Another important aspect of healthy eating for seniors is to eat foods that are friendly to their medical conditions or medication. For example, people with diabetes should eat nutrient-dense foods that are low in fat and sodium, and people taking warfarin (Coumadin) should avoid grapefruit because it leads to complications in metabolizing the drug. These are things that you should take into account when managing diet, so the best course of action would be to talk to your doctor or dietician to find out what the right foods are for you.
If you or your doctor notice that you are not getting the necessary nutrients from your normal diet, it is important to consider taking supplements to ensure adequate nutrient intake. This is sometimes necessary because some nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and magnesium are not so common in the foods we eat. Before taking these supplements, please talk to your doctor or dietician regarding potential side effects and drug interactions.
It is important to be aware of your nutritional habits and make the necessary changes to ensure a well-balanced diet. Maintaining a well-balanced diet can lead to increases in energy, social and physiological function, and quality of life. A well-balanced diet can also fight off health complications and/or manage current medical conditions as well. We hope you all have a safe and healthy new year!