Springtime is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Physical activity is also the perfect segue for rethinking other ways in which you use your body, including for nutrition.
For people trying to lose weight, proper eating often goes hand in hand with exercise — but nutrition doesn’t just have to be a weight-loss tool. Healthy eating has been proven to reduce risk for diseases, enhance energy and improve overall outlook — all of which can benefit us as we age!
Let’s take a look at some steps seniors can take to incorporate good nutrition into their daily routines.
How Can Seniors Improve Their Nutrition?
First, it’s helpful to understand why nutrition is so important.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, seniors who practice healthy eating habits can lower their chances of developing a range of conditions: heart disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. That’s enough incentive for us!
If you need an extra push, good nutrition also promotes healthy digestion, keeps your weight in check — which can help reduce pain in the back, knees and hips — and boosts energy and mood so you can take on each day with a positive attitude. Sounds like a win to us!
So what are some steps seniors can take to improve their nutrition?
One of the best things you can do to start on the road to good nutrition is see your doctor. Talk openly with him or her about your current diet, challenges to eating healthy and your nutrition goals. The expertise of a physician as you head down this path can be a great tool!
Family support is also helpful. Seniors should make sure to tell loved ones — spouses, kids, friends — that they’re going to prioritize nutrition. The same goes for caregivers: Make sure to offer yourself as a resource for the senior in your life who is looking to get healthy. Just like with weight loss in general, having partners in the process can provide moral support needed to keep you on the right track.
Next, research! With the help of your doctor, find out if you should stick to a set diet or more informally modify your eating habits; it all comes down to what’s best for your body and your routine! In general, focus on fresh as much as possible, incorporate fruits (an apple a day!) and veggies wherever you can and do your best to stay away from sugary, processed foods.
Finally, seniors can make nutrition an enjoyable effort. Bring a family member on your trip to the farmer’s market and use it as an opportunity to catch up. Try out new, healthy recipes once a week and invite friends or neighbors to sample. Join a local cooking class to learn about food prep while mixing and mingling with people in your community.
As we age, our appetites, digestion and metabolism will change, which is why it’s so important to learn about and practice good nutrition. This spring, let’s all take a pledge to make healthy eating a priority!
Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
Complete Care Strategies