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Auburn Hill Senior Living in Midlothian, Virginia

Healthy Eating Habits For Seniors

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September is National “Better Breakfast” Month. What better time to talk about the importance of better nutrition for seniors?

As we age, balance is everything when it comes to nutrition. Gone are the days of skipping meals or surviving on pizza for weeks on end. Now is the time to focus on eating a well-balanced diet focused on health. In fact, eating well can help you maintain a healthy weight, feel energized, and even fight off or reduce the negative effects of certain diseases. 

Unfortunately, studies have shown that 1 in 4 seniors has poor nutrition, which puts them at risk for becoming over or underweight, weakening their muscles and bones, and increasing their risk for disease. 

To fight off the problems associated with poor nutrition, it’s important to eat foods rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals on a daily basis. 

Processed foods and those loaded with added sugars should be avoided or cut out completely. Fresh, whole foods are tastier, more filling, and provide many more nutrients, anyway. 

Evolution Of Nutritional Needs With Age

As we age, our nutritional needs begin to change along with our appetites and even our food habits. 

Because our metabolism slows, we may feel hungry less often and our caloric need decreases. Because of this, our energy is also typically lower, leading to more inactivity. (This is why it’s important to make movement an intentional daily habit!

Decreased appetite is a result of a decline in caloric intake needs, but also due to a diminished sense of smell and taste. It can be difficult to remember to eat throughout the day and this can become a serious problem if eating isn’t an intentional routine. Forgetting to eat can take a toll on your organs, muscles, and bones. 

Dietary changes also come about after diagnosis of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or osteoporosis. A doctor may recommend a change in eating habits to help combat the negative effects of these diseases and prevent further harm to your body. 

Oral health is often an overlooked factor that plays a role in the dietary habits of senior citizens. Poorly-fitted dentures or infections in your mouth can cause you to take in fewer or different types of food. Consuming the same types of food daily can lead to malnutrition problems down the road. 

There are other life events and age-related factors that can all affect your diet as you age, but the important part is focusing on the solution. 

Maintaining Healthy Nutrition as You Age

As we age, it’s important to begin to focus more on the nutrient contents of the food we are eating rather than just the caloric footprint. 

A well-balanced diet will be rich in fiber, protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

You can fill up on these powerful nutrients through foods such as:

  • Lean meat
  • Whole fruit
  • Whole, steamed vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole, organic dairy products
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains (freshly-milled is best)

It is always best to prepare foods that are as close to their whole form as possible and avoid processed, pre-packaged foods and all added sugars whenever possible. 

Even the act of preparing your food can be therapeutic in itself. How satisfying it is to turn whole vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds into beautiful, delicious meals that nourish your body! 

When convenience foods are a must, reach for healthier options, like:

  • Frozen or canned (low-sodium) vegetables
  • Unsweetened canned or frozen fruits
  • Pre-cooked grilled turkey or chicken breast
  • Bagged pre-made salad kits
  • Low-sodium canned soups
  • Instant oatmeal

Don’t Rule Out Supplementation

It’s no secret that getting our vitamins and minerals directly from food is the most desirable. However, if you are avoiding certain foods and finding it difficult to get the nutrients you need, you should consider supplementing. 

Ask your doctor if a vitamin or mineral supplement might be right for your unique needs. 

Don’t Forget To Drink Your Water

Hydration is critically important. Just as our appetite, smell, and taste diminish with age, so do our thirst cues. It’s important to make a habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day.

Especially during the warmer months, it’s important for seniors to stay hydrated!  

Eating healthfully and prioritizing hydration are the foundation of thriving through your golden years, so begin today! 

If you’re interested in a community focused on health and well-being, we invite you to come experience Auburn Hill Senior Living for yourself by scheduling a tour today. We’d be delighted to show you around and introduce you to our exceptional team and resident family.

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