Food for thought
Here’s how to eat right for good health
Eating well is important at any age—and getting the nourishment you need can help you stay healthy and strong for years to come. Read on to learn how.
Focus on key nutrients
Fill up your plate with foods containing these vital nutrients for aging adults:
- Protein—Your body depends on protein to build and maintain healthy muscle, bones and skin. You can get protein from foods such as meat, poultry, dairy, beans, tofu, peanut butter and nuts.
- Fats—Healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can be found in foods like fish, nuts, avocados and vegetable oils. But limit your intake of saturated and trans fats (the kind that raise your bad cholesterol level).
- Fiber—Good for your heart and weight control, fiber also helps you stay regular. Fiber-rich foods include beans, whole-grain breads, fruits and vegetables.
- Calcium and vitamin D—These nutrients keep bones healthy, so stock up on milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified foods and leafy, dark-green vegetables.
- Potassium—Important for healthy blood pressure, potassium can be found in beans, milk, yogurt and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Tips to chew on
- If you have trouble chewing or swallowing, pick soft, easy-to-eat foods that also deliver important nutrients. Milkshakes, pudding, peanut butter and ice cream are good examples.
- Drink plenty of water each day to replace fluids and prevent dehydration and constipation.
- Read nutrition facts and ingredient labels carefully to learn what’s in the foods you’re buying.
- To combat a lack of appetite—which can occur due to changes in your sense of taste or smell—try livening up your food with different spices or herbs, or experiment with dishes that are new to your palate.
- Ask your health care provider if taking a vitamin or mineral supplement is right for you. A healthy diet can provide many of the vitamins and minerals you need, but a supplement may also improve any deficiencies.
When to seek help
Maybe your dentures are making it more difficult to chew foods with ease. Or perhaps a medication or chronic illness is causing you to lose interest in the foods you used to love. As you age, you may encounter these or other barriers to good nutrition.
If eating well becomes a challenge or if your appetite loss has led to weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, skin problems or other problems, talk to your health care provider. In addition to advising you on ways to improve your food intake, he or she may recommend a nutritionist to address your nutritional needs or deficiencies.
At CareOne, our full-time nutritionists provide comprehensive nutritional assessment and supervision, ensuring our patients’ and residents’ dietary needs are met. Our staff is also available to speak to community groups about the importance of healthy eating and overcoming nutritional challenges for aging adults.