Every Bite Counts: Food for Thought
By: Camila Cal, SeniorLivingGuide.com
Food is one of the most important parts of our everyday lives. It excites, motivates, and most importantly, nourishes us. But food can be tricky, especially as we age. Stacey Silver with Mom’s Meals, a registered dietician, sat down with Darleen Mahoney on the SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcast to help provide some insight on how to best feed our bodies as we age.
According to Stacey, metabolisms slow down as people get older which means that caloric needs decrease. Most women over 50 years old need about 1,600-2,200 calories a day and men over 50 years old need 2,000-2,800 calories a day, both depending on their lifestyle. However, these numbers aren’t set in stone – needs can vary depending on individual health. To best understand your specific caloric needs, speak to a physician or dietician.
The United States isn’t doing a great job when it comes to nutrition. Stacey explained that 77% of Americans are consuming more saturated fat than is recommended as well as 90% more salt than is recommended. More than half of Americans are considered obese and are choosing less vegetables and dairy in their daily lives.
The numbers are scary, but how do we choose healthier options? Stacey provided some simple principles to remember good nutrition:
- Eat less junk food! Instead of snacking on a bag of potato chips and soda, find some nutrient dense food and drinks like a fruit smoothie and granola.
- Select a variety of foods from different food groups. Try different things, especially during the seasons where there are different fruits and vegetables to choose from.
- Pay attention to portion sizes. Often, we tend to eat with our eyes and bite off more than we should chew. Try putting meals on a smaller plate!
- Fluids are important too, as our ability to recognize dehydration can weaken with age. Keep a bottle of water next to you and sip on it throughout the day. If you want to spice things up, try sparkling water!
It’s not always easy to know exactly what you should be eating and drinking. A good resource to Google is the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it will help you understand more of what kinds and amounts of food you should be consuming.
And when in doubt, go through the food group!
- Fruit: Choose fresh fruit based on what’s in season. Berries are a great source of antioxidants! Frozen fruit (and vegetables) are just as nutritious and a cost-effective way to make sure food won’t go to waste. Make sure that there are no added sauce or sugars!
- Veggies: Kale, lettuce, spinach, and leafy greens are the best foods for the brain! They help to fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia because they’re packed with vitamins. Some veggies like tomatoes and broccoli are rich in antioxidants, with help to fight against cancers.
- Grains: Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, etc.) are full of fiber and get rid of bad, unwanted cholesterol. They’re versatile and cost-effective.
- Dairy: Consuming dairy can help maintain strong bones, and it’s great for your heart! Choose dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free. Alternative dairy (soy, almond, oat, etc.) is great, too, if you ensure that they are fortified with other vitamins and minerals that are found in cow’s milk. Stay on the lookout for added sugars!
- Protein: Flax seeds are tiny seeds that pack a big punch and are filled with protein/fiber. They can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, and more. Fish, tofu, chicken, and beef are all excellent sources of protein, but portion sizes should always be top of mind.
The most important thing to remember is that consuming anything in excess can become unhealthy. Balance is key! Using the food group, taking advantage of dietary resources, and practicing the simple principles of nutrition, we will all make sure that every bite counts!
For more senior and caregiver resource podcasts, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcasts or they can be found most anywhere you enjoy music or podcasts such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, and more!
If you are interested in more nutrition-based podcasts, click to listen to Food Glorious Food! Losing Weight, Gaining Weight Eating Right After 50 and Nutrition Nuggets: Did the Pioneers Look More Like Twiggy or Mama Cass?Tags: Healthy Seniors, Podcast, Senior Diet, Senior Nutrition