March is National Nutritional Month
National Nutrition Month was created 50 years ago by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
Fuel for the Future
This year’s theme is “Fuel for the Future.” Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products improves your diet, as does cutting down on added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Support from health professionals, friends, and family can help older adults meet food group and nutrient recommendations.
The definition of healthy eating does change a bit with age. As people age, metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s important to choose foods that provide the best nutritional value.
Healthy Habits Start with You
Five Tips for Picking Healthy Food for Your Body
Healthy eating begins with you. Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. Here are 5 healthy eating tips to consider.
1.) Know What a Healthy Plate Looks Like
Most people remember from their health class, the food pyramid. The USDA recently unveiled a simple way to help people see what they should eat each day. “My Plate” is a simple graphic that shows exactly how the five food groups should stack up on your plate. This is a good way to help establish a healthy daily diet.
2.) Look for Important Nutrients
Make sure you eat a variety of foods to get required nutrients. Your plate should look like a rainbow—bright, colored foods are always the best choice! A healthy meal should include:
- Lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans)
- Fruits and vegetables (think orange, red, green, and purple)
- Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta)
- Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)
Remember to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium or salt. Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral for older adults.
3.) Read the Nutrition Facts Label
The healthiest foods are whole foods. These are often found on the perimeter of the grocery store in the produce, meat, and dairy sections. When you do eat packaged foods, be a smart about the choices. Read the labels to find items that are lower in fat, added sugars, and sodium.
4.) Follow the Recommended Servings
To maintain your weight, you must eat the right amount of food for your age and body. The American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults age 60+.
Serving and Portion Sizes for Senior Citizens
Discuss with your doctor whether you are better served with a 1600 or a 2200 calorie diet.
1600 Calorie Diet:
- Grains (mainly whole grain) 6 per day
- Vegetables 3-4 per day
- Fruits 4 per day
- Milk/milk products 2-3 per day
- Lean meats, poultry, fish 3-4 per day
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes 3-4 per week
- Fats and oils 2 per day
- Sweets and added sugars 3 or less/ week
2200 Calorie Diet:
- Grains (mainly whole grain) 6-8 per day
- Vegetables 4-5 per day
- Fruits 4-5 per day
- Milk/milk products 2-3 per day
- Lean meats, poultry, fish 6 per day
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes 4-5 per week
- Fats and oils 2-3 per day
- Sweets and added sugars 5 or less/ week
5.) Stay Hydrated
Water is an important nutrient as well. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. Drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. Water is always your best choice. Keep fluids with sugar and salt to a minimum unless your doctor suggests otherwise.
Additional Tips for Good Health
- Limit foods high in saturated fat.
- Be physically active. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking, every day.
- Talk to your doctor about your personal health needs, particularly about how best to apply the dietary guideline.
- Use less salt. Everyone needs some salt, but too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Watch your intake of high salt foods. Choose reduced salt food when shopping and flavor your cooking with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Watch your alcohol intake.
- Get your vitamins and minerals. If you eat less or have digestive issues, you may be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals. Speak to your doctor about your levels.
- Always choose a variety of foods from the five food groups.
CCRC’s and Nutrition
Senior adults that live in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) such as The Ohio Masonic Home don’t have to worry about getting well-balanced menus. Senior living communities such as Browning Masonic Community, Springfield Masonic Community, or Western Reserve Masonic Community, provide great tasting meals that contain the appropriate nutrients to keep you healthy and living your best life.
When it comes to healthy eating for senior adults, The Ohio Masonic Home is your go to resource. With three locations in Springfield, Waterville, and Medina, OH, their senior living communities offer 24/7 care and support for independent living, assisted living, and memory care. If you and your loved one are interested in senior living, schedule a tour at one of the scenic and beautiful communities. Call (877) 881-1623 today to learn more about their great senior living options.