Each decade of our lives presents different challenges when it comes to eating healthfully. Tastes change and so do nutritional needs. Medications can also affect taste, appetite and need for additional liquids and older adults must be aware of how to best make medications work with a healthy diet. With all the diet related information available via the media, one can become confused amidst all the conflicting information. If we look to some basic principles of healthy eating, we can at least cover the most important basics by following a few tips. The USDA and National Institute on
Aging recently came out with an educational series geared toward healthy eating for people age 65+. Their 10 healthy tips are a good place to start for seniors looking to ensure they are choosing healthy meals. The tips are as follows:

  1. Drink plenty of liquids.
    Older adults may lose some sense of thirst. Limit the drinks with salt or sugar added.
  2. Make eating a social event.
    Potlucks, dining with friends, eating at the senior center- these are all ways to make meals more enjoyable by sharing them with others.
  3. Plan healthy meals.
    Study nutrition information at ChooseMyPlate.gov which is based on dietary guidelines for Americans. Be smart and be flexible when preparing meals.
  4. Know how much to eat.
    Portion size is really crucial. Some restaurants may be serving you two portions or more in one dish. MyPlate’s SuperTracker shows amounts of food that are appropriate.
  5. Vary your vegetables.
    Eat a rainbow by including a variety of different colored veggies. They are low calorie and a great source of fiber.
  6. Eat for your teeth and gums.
    Those that have dental problems may have a hard time chewing certain foods. Try steamed, baked or canned foods instead, just watch the sodium content.
  7. Use herbs and spices.
    Aging presents some challenges with taste due to loss of taste buds or sense of smell. Increased use of herbs and spices can help mitigate those conditions and make food appealing again.
  8. Keep food safe.
    Food-related illness can be deadly to an older adult. Keep an eye on expiration dates, throw out food that may not be safe. Avoid undercooked foods and unpasteurized dairy products.
  9. Read the Nutrition Facts label
    Check the amount of calories, fats, sodium and important nutrients.
  10. Ask your doctor about vitamins or supplements.
    Food is the best way to get nutrients you need. Some supplements may interfere with your medications or other health conditions. Check with your doctor to be sure!

If you would like to learn more about dependable in-home help for the elderly and the many benefits of professional senior care at home or dementia and Alzheimer’s care, call Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo County to speak to a senior care specialist today 805-470-1594!   The compassionate senior care specialists at Senior Helpers can also guide you through the process of receiving the Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Benefit if your elderly loved one is a veteran.   In-home senior care and in-home assisted living allows your loved one to stay in the comforts of their own home for as long as possible while receiving the level of care they need. Senior Helpers of San Luis Obispo County provides a wide range of services including Alzheimer’s and dementia care, personal assistance, companionship, and so much more to all areas of San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Cambria, and surrounding areas. Visit www.seniorhelpers.com/sanluisobispo for more information.

Article adapted from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/tentips/DGTipsheet42ChoosingHealthyMealsAsYouGetOlder.pdf

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