Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising are some of the best ways to prevent or delay health problems. For older adults, good nutrition is especially important. Many people experience a loss of appetite with age, or have difficulty chewing due to dental issues. However, not eating a well-balanced diet can lead to malnutrition and other medical conditions.
While there is no single “ideal” diet that works for everyone no matter the age, eating a variety of foods and decreasing consumption of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium can benefit mental and physical health. For example, research has shown that people with severe depression experienced a reduction in their symptoms when they followed the Mediterranean diet of whole grains, legumes, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and nuts.
Small, consistent changes in eating habits can bring about big health benefits over time. Starting now, try to:
- Eat a variety of foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Stick to moderate portions.
- Limit processed foods.
- Eat regularly…don’t skip meals.
- Drink fluids throughout the day, mostly water.
- Plan your meals, including healthy snacks.
- Enjoy meals with loved ones if possible, without the distractions of cell phones, TV, and other electronics.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are designed to help people avoid developing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But everyone is different. Many people with food allergies or sensitivities, or who have a chronic disease such as diabetes, may benefit from the guidance of a nutritionist or registered dietician. Tips for making healthier choices include the following:
- Start with small changes. Making small and gradual changes is easier than trying to make major changes all at once.
- Be active your way. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s walking, gardening, or taking an exercise class.
- Don’t let “slips” derail you.
Making smart food and lifestyle choices has many benefits for older adults, including increased energy levels, decreased risk of chronic disease, and physical and emotional well-being.
We, at Giving Tree, wish you a Happy New Year! Whether you are a caregiver of an aging individual, or you are aging, we are available to help you know the care options available. Please reach out to Brittany Fortmayer at (228) 467-5900 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help you!