Woman preparing a salad with fresh vegetables

6 Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

Nutrition is important for our development at any age, but making healthy choices can be especially impactful for older adults. Due to natural changes in metabolism and decreases in bone and muscle mass, seniors often have increased nutrient needs compared to younger adults.

Fortunately, finding a healthy diet to fit your lifestyle is easier than you might think. There are countless fresh and flavorful foods that provide the nutrition your body needs as an older adult. If you’re ready to make some changes to the way you eat and stay healthy, follow these six tips to get started. 

1. Eat a Diverse Diet

Different nutrients support different functions of the body, so it’s important to keep your diet diverse. Some of the most critical nutrients for seniors include potassium, calcium, vitamin D, dietary fiber and vitamin B12. Protein is also essential for maintaining muscle mass, and healthy sources such as seafood, dairy, beans, peas and lentils come with the bonus of nutrients such as vitamin B12, calcium and fiber.

2. Use What’s In-Season

Sometimes the best nutritional value comes from the most simple ingredients. Why bother with elaborate preparations when you might have seasonal superfoods waiting in your own garden? According to the National Council on Aging, these fresh options can help older adults maintain healthy cognitive function, create stronger bones and prevent chronic disease:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnips
  • Berries such as blueberries, raspberries and dark cherries
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios

3. Practice Portion Control

Despite the need for additional nutrients, seniors typically have lower calorie needs. This means carefully planning your portions to avoid overindulgence. One strategy that can be especially effective is meal planning. At the start of the week, put together a menu to avoid being tempted by unhealthy choices. You can even prepare meals in advance and divide them into portions that can be easily enjoyed each day.

4. Stay Hydrated

An often overlooked aspect of a healthy diet is hydration. Water is important for almost all bodily functions, especially in older adults who are at a higher risk of dehydration due to changes in the body. It’s best to talk with your doctor about how much water you should drink, but a general rule of thumb is to take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces in fluids. You can also supplement with foods that have a high water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, tomatoes or celery.

5. Be Mindful of Medications

If prescription drugs are a regular part of your routine, always check with your doctor or pharmacist for potential food interactions. You might be surprised to learn that common foods can lead to dangerous side effects. For example, grapefruit and grapefruit juice mixed with cholesterol-lowering drugs can increase the risk of muscle pains, liver damage and even kidney failure.

6. Personalize Your Plan

When it comes to a healthy diet for seniors, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s also hard to have success when you’re forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t enjoy. Speaking with your primary care physician can help you better understand your unique dietary needs to create a personalized plan that’s tasty and beneficial for your body.

See What Healthy Eating Looks Like at Abbey Delray

At Abbey Delray, the wellness of our residents is the top priority. We offer a number of options to support a healthy diet, including delicious dining venues, access to a registered dietitian, a range of health services and a personalized, research-based health and wellness plan.

If you’d like to learn more about Abbey Delray and how our Delray Beach-area community can help you live your ideal lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.