The National Council on Aging has created a step-by-step guide to get you, or your elderly loved ones, on the path towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Understand what a Healthy Plate is
A common topic when discussing health and dieting is the food pyramid. It has been a staple of conversation in health and wellness classes since its inception in 1917. However, the USDA has recently unveiled the MyPlate application which allows you to easily view exactly how the five food groups should stack on your plate. This information is a critical building block for a healthy diet.
- Vary your Food to Obtain Important Nutrients
As we age, it’s important that we consume a variety of foods to ensure we get all the necessary nutrients to keep our bodies strong and healthy. A plate of food should look similar to a rainbow. Foods that are bright and colorful are typically good choices. It is especially important that elderly people choose foods that are high in fiber and Vitamin D, and avoid sodium as much as possible.
A healthy meal should include:
- Lean protein (Lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans)
- Fruits and vegetables (bright colors – orange, red, green, purple)
- Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta)
- Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)
- Don’t Dismiss the Nutrition Facts Label
The healthiest options are generally found on the perimeter of the grocery store in the produce, meat and dairy sections. These are the fresh, whole foods. However, if you do eat packaged foods, make sure to carefully read the nutrition label. As a senior, it is important to find items low in fat, sugar and sodium.
- Adhere to the Recommended Servings
To maintain a healthy diet, it is crucial to eat the ideal amount of food for your age and your body. If you don’t know how much you should eat, The American Heart Association has created a handy guide with the recommended servings for adults 60 and older.
- Stay Hydrated
Water is one of the most vital nutrients for bodies of all ages, however, it is unfortunately often neglected. Dehydration can lead to a litany of complications that can be further amplified for senior citizens. Drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. While water remains the best option, tea and coffee can also suffice. Avoid drinks high in sugar and sodium, unless recommended by a doctor, as these may further dehydrate you.
- You Can Afford to Eat Healthy
A common misconception is that eating healthy is too expensive. With smart and prepared shopping, it is possible to maintain a proper diet while on a budget. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (click to see if you qualify) can help you afford healthy food when you need it. Over 4 million seniors in America take advantage of this program and the average participant receives $113 each month to use on nutritional foods.
The definition of eating healthy does change slightly as we age. For example, the metabolism slows down so it’s important to consume fewer calories than before. Our bodies also begin to require more nutrients. However, at the core, healthy eating can be achieved with just a few simple steps and can help you stay independent and active. With a proper diet you will spend more time doing the things you love, and less time in the doctor’s office.
For those who are active but still have difficulty traversing the stairs in their home, a Stannah Stairlift serves as a perfect complimentary option to a new nutrition plan. With more than 150 years of experience, Stannah is one of the most respected names in the industry and a Stannah Stairlift will ensure you, or your elderly loved ones, are able to navigate your home safely and independently.