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Nutrition in Seniors: 8 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Diet

Because our nutritional needs change over time, it’s important for older adults to follow a healthy diet tailored to their unique needs. Read on for some helpful tips for seniors to practice healthy eating habits.

While practicing healthy eating habits is important throughout our lives, our nutritional needs can change as we age.

Seniors have lower calorie requirements and different nutrient needs than younger adults. They also have a higher risk of chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Luckily, older adults can help improve their health and well-being by following a balanced diet.

8 Tips for Seniors to Maintain Proper Nutrition

There are a number of guidelines to help older adults follow a healthy diet.

1. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables. At mealtimes, about half of your plate should be filled with a variety of colorful vegetables (think red, orange, and dark green). Adding fruit is also a smart option—including for snacks and desserts. Frozen and canned produce can be a healthy option, but make sure they don’t have much sodium or sugar added.

2. Switch to low-fat dairy products. It’s important for seniors to consume more vitamin D and calcium to keep their bones healthy and strong. Try incorporating three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese every day.

3. Choose whole grains. Eating foods made with 100% whole grains is ideal. Look for this ingredient in your cereals, breads, noodles, and crackers. Brown rice, bulgur, and oats also count as whole grains. When choosing a cereal, look for options that are fiber rich and fortified with vitamin B12.

4. Eat a variety of proteins. In addition to consuming a diverse array of lean meats, remember that eggs, dairy, beans, peas, and lentils are also great sources of protein. And don’t sleep on the seafood—even canned salmon, tuna, or crab can help maintain muscle mass.

5. Avoid sugar-packed foods. This one can be a challenge, and it comes with a caveat: You should cut back on foods with added sugars, such as soda, fruit juices, cookies, ice cream, and many dessert foods. Added sugar increases your risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers. Try satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit.

6. Limit sodium and salt intake. Be on the lookout for the sodium content of the foods you buy. Sodium can impact heart health and blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults consume no more than 1,500mg per day. Take a peek at your nutrition labels at the grocery store—especially in processed foods, packaged foods, and condiments—and choose no-salt-added, low-sodium, and reduced-sodium options.

7. Stick to healthy fats. Found in foods like beef, pork, full-fat dairy, and oils like coconut and palm, saturated fats are a big culprit of increasing your risk for heart disease and high cholesterol. Healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil, avocado, and fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) are better choices.

8. Be mindful of portion sizes. It’s easy to eat larger-than-necessary portions—especially when dining out. Be more cognizant of how much you’re eating in one sitting. At a restaurant, try only eating half of your meal and putting the rest in a to-go box. At home, you can use smaller bowls and dishes or measuring out the recommended serving listed on a food label.

How Sunrise Offers Healthy Food Options

At each Sunrise community, our talented chefs serve flavorful, scratch-made dishes that incorporate fresh ingredients. As part of our signature dining program, we take care to offer healthy, nutritious options to our residents.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, our communities are hosting Taste of Sunrise events on March 20, 2024, which are a great opportunity for seniors and their families to sample our cuisine.

Find a Sunrise community near you and find out how to attend a Taste of Sunrise of event.

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

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