Changing your eating habits as you age
Looking and feeling the best you can begins from the inside. How you nourish your body determines a number of different factors about the way you look and feel. As we age, there are many changes that go on in our bodies that can improve or be detrimental depending on diet.
One of the first things we see is a slowing of our metabolism. Activity levels often slow down as well and the combination naturally results in weight gain. Learning about the nutrients needed for your body to run efficiently is invaluable. This change will inevitably affect your food choices and yes, this could mean eating fewer doughnuts and more fruits and vegetables. While this is beneficial at any age, eating a diet rich in leafy greens and lean proteins can help keep weight gain to a minimum and increase energy levels and clarity.
When you were young you may have been able to eat just about anything without giving it a second thought, but an unhealthy diet will take its toll and can ultimately lead to a variety of health issues. In addition to changes in metabolism, there may be changes in the digestive system where you may not be able to eat the same rich foods or greasy burgers you once did. We also often see a decrease in appetite and emotional health changes can impact eating habits too. It is important to be aware of any changes and to continue to provide our bodies the proper balance of nutritional foods and calories.
A healthy diet packed with vital nutrients can act as preventative medicine and ward off many potential health problems common in seniors. Several common health problems that can be avoided include: constipation, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and kidney disease. Consistent healthy eating habits made up of foods rich in nutrients paired with mild to moderate physical activity can make a big difference.
A change in eating habits or loss of appetite may indicate:
- Depression: Can cause a loss of appetite or spur on overeating to fill the void
- Illness or infection
- Memory loss or decline: May result in forgetting to eat or skipping meals
To make improvements and begin eating a healthier diet, here are some foods and food groups to keep in mind:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables: They are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants
- Dairy: It’s high in calcium and vitamin D, which is essential as we get older
- Whole grains: They are loaded with fiber, which helps digestion and contains B vitamins to protect your heart
- Lean protein: Meat like fish, poultry, beans, legumes and nuts will give the best source of protein
Eating healthy goes beyond just eating kale salads, chicken and brown rice for every meal. Not sure where to begin? A variety of healthy recipes and meal ideas can be found here.
Another important thing to remember when adopting a healthier, more balanced diet is to stay hydrated. Remembering to drink water is always important, but it is especially vital because our ability to conserve water is reduced as we age. Certain medications can also affect senior’s ability to retain water and Alzheimer’s or dementia patients may forget to eat or drink. Staying hydrated is essential for preventing serious health problems.
At Paradise Living Centers our nurse, caregivers and chef work together to ensure our residents are eating a consistently healthy diet that meets their individual needs and tastes. To learn more about our services or tour our Central Phoenix or Paradise Valley homes, contact (480) 878 – 4112.