While healthy eating is a necessity for people of all ages, it is especially true for aging adults residing in retirement communities. Below is a guide that when followed will give elders the proper nutrients while helping them maintain an optimal body weight so they can remain both independent and active.
Make Sure Your Meal Contains the Correct Portions
While many guides focus on the things you should not and should eat, portions are equally important. Adding the correct portions to each plate will ensure your body is always getting adequate nutrients, fiber, and protein. For example, half of the meal should have vegetables and fruit, as this will cover your vitamin B12, D, and C intake, along with potassium.
The other portion of the meal should be divided into quarters, with the first comprising healthy fats and proteins like dairy, legumes, beans, fish, and meat. The other half should consist of whole grains that give nutrients and fiber. What size is a portion? Think of a portion as being roughly the same size as a playing card deck.
Stay Away From Junk Food and Ingredients
The market is full of junk food, making it very difficult to choose healthier ingredients. Things that should be avoided by elders include too much salt, white sugar, saturated fat, and hydrogenated oils. Foods that tend to be rich in these include candy, cookies, cakes, and anything that is heavily processed like fast or frozen food.
Instead, you want to focus on things such as chicken, fish, or lean turkey while reducing your consumption of fatty pork, bacon, and beef. While there is nothing wrong with eating processed food sparsely, you should reserve it only for rare occasions.
Drink Lots of Water
The importance of drinking lots of water cannot be emphasized enough. Too many people rely on juice, wine, coffee, tea, and other beverages that do not provide the benefits that simple water has. Water performs a number of crucial bodily functions, such as temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and the transfer of key nutrients throughout the body which give energy.
This precious liquid will also help the brain perform better. Water is actually more important for aging adults than younger people because their bodies will retain less. This is also why aging adults have a greater susceptibility to dehydration, and it doesn’t help that many are taking various medications. Drink as much water as possible each day and limit your intake of caffeinated beverages whenever you can.
Use Substitute Ingredients
Many elders dread the idea of making dietary changes because they feel it keeps them from eating the foods they want to eat and will only delay the inevitable. However, many great-tasting but bad foods have healthier substitutes that taste just as good and you’ll want to take advantage of them. For example, those that love tacos with sour cream can replace their sour cream with yogurt that is low in fat, while ground beef can be replaced with turkey. Salt can be replaced by garlic to add flavor while vegetable oil can be replaced with olive oil for cooking.