Throughout all stages of life we’re told how important it is to exercise, eat right, and be mindful of our health. Sometimes that can be easier said than done, especially as we age. There are all sorts of reasons to not eat as healthy as we should. Maybe you feel like you aren’t a good cook or don’t feel safe, or comfortable staying on your feet, or managing hot, heavy pans. Perhaps you’ve felt a little down and haven’t had the motivation to prepare food the way you used to. Or maybe you’re not sure what to eat after getting a new diagnosis from your doctor. Many seniors feel their appetite decreases as they age, which can also affect how many nutrients they get.
Thankfully, eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Senior nutrition tips and dietary guidelines are not all that different for adults of other ages. Instead of processed foods, red meat, too many sweets, and saturated fats from foods like chips and fried dishes, opt for low-sugar, low-sodium meals with plenty of protein, fiber, and fresh vegetables. It might be a dramatic shift if you haven’t been mindful of nutrition in the past, but with the right support system, it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. A senior living community like Indianapolis’ Morningside can be a great way to take the pressure off preparing meals and counting micronutrients and can instead transform dining into a sociable, pleasurable experience that also has some great health benefits.
Statistics show that one of the primary health concerns facing seniors worldwide is malnutrition or nutritional risk. That can go hand in hand with other challenges like isolation and depression. However, retirement communities help reduce those sources of stress in seniors’ lives with services like a dining program for residents. Gathering around a table together three times daily, as well as for special occasions like National Beer Lover's Day, Lunch & Apple Desserts, or outings to restaurants like IHOP and Applebees are all great ways to engage in some essential human companionship, while getting the nutrients your body needs.
Three top senior nutrition tips to keep in mind:
Get the most bang for your buck. As one study points out, “energy requirements decline with increasing age, but it is essential that the nutrient density of the diet remains the same.” That means that you should make sure most meals have maximum nutrition. If you’re eating less than you did in your twenties, thirties, or forties, you need to make sure the calories you do take in aren’t made up of just fat, sodium, and heavy protein.
Focus on high fiber, low fat. Fiber can be crucial for seniors, because the amount of fluid we retain can decrease as we age. That makes it more important than ever to pay attention to hydration and fiber for effective digestion and comfort. Increasing hydration can also help flush out excess sodium, and fibrous vegetables can help you feel full while also delivering powerful vitamins and minerals.
Calcium rich foods could save you from bad falls. Hopefully exercise and regular activity will help you keep your balance, but we all have to adjust to physical changes as we age, including shifts in how well we keep our balance. Upping calcium intake can prevent bone breaks and fractures that could lead to pain, discomfort, and hospitalization. Calcium also plays nice with Vitamin D, meaning you get some extra mileage from one source. Look to low-fat dairy products like yogurt, skim milk, and cottage cheese to round out this nutrient.
By enjoying Morningside’s many cuisine options, you can ensure you’re getting what your body needs, while still having as much fun as possible. Wellness doesn’t have to look like restriction when you’re savoring the best of Indianapolis in good company.
Written by: Meghan O'Dea