Seniors-Friendly Tips for an Ultra Healthy Diet

Seniors-Friendly Tips for an Ultra Healthy Diet

As your body matures, you should adjust your diet accordingly. The fact is, after about the age of 40, your metabolism is not what it used to be. It slows down and is hard for the body to digest what you put into it. A new look at your diet is necessary, especially if you feel sluggish and run down.

Examining the Food Pyramid

Grains and Starches: The bottom of the food pyramid consists of your grains. That is noodles, breads, oatmeal, crackers and rice. Quinoa is another grain that is listed as a great food for sensitive stomachs and those who indulge in a gluten-free diet. Buying whole grain noodles and bread are much better for you, especially as you grow older. Whole grains are good for the heart and digestive system. And you should consume 6-7 ounces a day. One ounce is 16 grams and is equal to ½ cup cooked pasta or one slice of bread (whole wheat, of course).

Fruits and Vegetables: These are probably the most neglected on the pyramid. Introducing a colorful, natural, and healthy diet really starts here. Create a colorful meal using different colors and textures of fresh produce. Make sure you wash everything before eating. Seniors should consume two or more servings each day of fresh fruits and vegetables. One serving of fruits and vegetables equals 80 grams. So one apple, pear, or banana is a serving. A half of an avocado is a serving. One tablespoon of raisins or three dried apricots count. This group has a lot of fiber and antioxidants to keep your system functioning normally and fend off diseases.

Dairy: Calcium intake is vital for strong bones and good muscle tone. However, you can take in all the calcium you want but it will do you no good without its partner, vitamin D. Enriched milk has the vitamins in it as well as the sun. However, sun exposure can harm your body too. A supplement of calcium with vitamin D will help with absorption. You should be taking in 1200mg of calcium a day. Other foods that contain calcium are broccoli and almonds.

Protein: Meat is good for you in moderation. This can be red meat (lean), chicken, fish, and pork. Eggs and legumes are also excellent sources. As a senior, you should be taking in 0.5 grams of your body weight. If you weigh 160 pounds, you would take in 80 grams of protein a day. One serving of protein is equal to 4 ounces and is about 23 grams of protein. 3 ounces of meat is equal to about 5 grams of protein. A tablespoon of peanut butter is about 1 ounce.

Fats, Oils, and Sugars: The very tip of the pyramid is reserved for everything that isn’t quite as good for you. That is why it is the tiny tip and not the wide base. This group encompasses all the dessert foods, most snack foods, and oil and butter that many people use to cook with. There are good oils that aid in fending off diseases like Alzheimer’s. You can pick some of these up in your fish, nuts, and olive oils. Even avocados have a certain amount of Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for you. Avoid the processed sugars and corn syrups and stick to fresh fruit for natural sugars your body can use won’t cause the typical sugar highs and crashes of refined sugars. They say 48 grams of sugar is all you should take in. This will also vary with caloric intake and body weight. However, the more natural the sugar, the easier your body can put it to good and proper use.

How Many Calories is Healthy?

•             The National Institute of Aging reports that an active woman over 50 needs to take in 2000 calories a day. Semi-active needs 1800 and a woman not active at all needs 1600.

•             A very active man over 50 needs 2400-2800 calories each day. Semi-active requires 2200-2400 and a man not active at all needs 2000.

•             Counting calories can be exhausting, but getting to know what calories are in the food you eat will make it easier. If you cut out most processed foods and stick  with a more natural diet, your body will thank you and be able to burn calories more efficiently. Going for a short walk a couple of times a day will increase your metabolism and you may feel the need to up your intake.

Tips on Eating Healthier

•             Cut out the use of salt. Use other herbs to replace how much salt you take in each day. Avoid loading your food with it. Salt can raise blood pressure and has been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. It also enhances water retention, which is something you don’t want to do.

•             Eat vegetables raw for extra nutrients or steam them to retain the good and nutritious parts of the food.

•             The more colorful your plate, the better. Incorporate colors in many varieties and feed them to your body in a healthy way.

•             Don’t forget that your senses are dulling a little bit. Taste and smell wane as you get older and medications will really make this more significant.

•             Refrain from skipping meals as it makes your metabolism decrease. Eat three good meals a day and snack if you feel hungry, but make those snacks nutritious ones like yogurt or cheese. They are still fast and easy, but better for you than cookies and donuts.

Recipe for a Healthy Salad

•             Whole Grain Rotini Noodles, cooked and strained. You can substitute dark greens like spinach and kale for the noodles to add variety.
•             Diced Chicken -- seasoned with herbs if you so desire.

Add any of these in any quantity you wish:

•             Tomatoes
•             Broccoli
•             Carrots
•             Zucchini
•             Cucumbers
•             Avocado
•             Cheese
•             Bacon Bits

Homemade Ranch Dressing:

•             ½ Cup dried parsley
•             2 tablespoons minced garlic
•             2 tablespoons minced onion
•             ¼ Cup onion powder
•             1 tablespoon dried dill
•             1 tablespoon salt
•             1 tablespoon black pepper
•             ½ teaspoon red chili flakes

If you need to, use a food processor to make this mixture a slightly chunky powder. Or, mix everything together and store in an airtight jar.

To make the dressing, use 1 tablespoon mix, 1 ½ Cups mayonnaise, and ¾ Cup buttermilk. Combine in this order: Mix, buttermilk, mayo. If you don’t, the mix sticks together and won’t disperse correctly. Just whisk it together and chill!

It isn’t easy to stick to a new way of eating, but your body will feel better and you will have more energy. Make it a new lifestyle and graduate to a better you!

Written by Maddy Olson, who often blogs for Brookdale Senior Living. Several losses in her family to Alzheimer’s Disease inspired her to write seniors-specific content.

Image by 1872 of stock.xchng


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