Good nutrition plays a major role in the quality of life for the elderly including providing better physical, mental, and social health. Many older adults are less active than younger people and therefore do not need to consume as many calories each day and/or may have a decreased sense of appetite. This means that it is even more critical that the calories seniors are getting each day are rich in nutrients and vitamins and they avoid filling up on unhealthy food options.
The USDA has put together a list of 10 healthy eating tips for people age 65+ called “Choosing Healthy Meals as You Get Older.” The first tip is to make a point to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day, because as we age, we can lose our sense of thirst. They recommend drinking water often and limit beverages that have lots of added sugars or salt.
They advise that you get into the habit of using spices and herbs to flavor food instead of salt and to have sliced fruits and vegetables available for snacks and meals. Even if you have dental problems, you can always eat cooked or canned foods like unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or canned tuna. The USDA suggests seniors vary the color of vegetables at each meal to benefit from the different vitamins each one offers. Another tip is to make eating a social event and to try and eat with others.
Every day seniors need food fortified with vitamin B12 such as fortified cereals, and 3 cups of fat-free of low-fat milk or yogurt and hard cheeses. Choose lactose-free foods if you cannot tolerate dairy. Another thing the USDA mentions to look out for are portion sizes and to try and eat as much food each day in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Guidelines for the National Institute of Aging state that physically inactive women 50 years and older need to consume about 1600 calories a day and moderately active women need about 1800 calories. If you are a 50 year or older woman leading a very active lifestyle, you need to consume approximately 2,000 calories daily. Inactive men 50+ only need 2,000 calories, somewhat active men about 2200-2400 and very active men about 2400-2800 calories.
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