Most people have been exposed to so many different diets over the years that we end up thinking of food in terms of what we aren’t supposed to eat. But for seniors, the concept of diet has a different meaning. Instead of eliminating so-called “bad” foods, seniors should focus on getting all the nutrients they need. Doing this consistently can be a challenge, but it becomes much easier when you take advantage of the tips and resources at your disposal.
Eating a nutritious diet takes work, from planning meals to grocery shopping and cooking. This is true for anyone, and many seniors face even greater barriers to eating well. Some seniors aren’t able to drive or they may have mobility concerns, and many are on a tight budget.
Even though these barriers present a challenge for many people, new technology has made it easier for seniors to get around these problems and eat more healthy meals at home. One example is how you can use apps such as Mealime to make a grocery list full of healthy options, and you can even use a service that delivers the groceries from your list right to your home. Another way around these problems is to use a meal delivery service that you can order online. There are a variety of these services to choose from so you can pick one that delivers ingredients and recipes for you to cook meals on your own, or you can choose meals that are already prepared and simply need to be reheated.
Another common issue for some seniors is a decrease in their sense of taste. As a result, many people add extra salt or sugar to food so that it will taste better. One smart strategy is to cook with more herbs and seasonings, rather than more salt. You can also try different cooking methods, such as making slow cooker recipes like turkey chili or smoky black beans from EatingWell.com. These recipes are easy to make, and using the slow cooker gives time for the food to be infused with all the flavors from your seasonings.
Take Advantage of Resources
Many seniors have access to resources for nutritional support and other wellness programs through their insurance. If you have Medicare Advantage, be sure to look into whether your plan includes these resources, such as the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans that provide coverage for fitness and general healthy living guidance. Even if you don’t have one of these plans, consider getting one before the next Open Enrollment Period, as the extra support is a great way to boost what you’re already doing to eat nutritiously.
Keep It Simple
When you’re unsure of how to get the most nutrients in your diet, or you’re just at a loss as to what to cook, the best approach is to keep it simple. Instead of trying a diet plan with lots of rules, follow a simple, balanced diet that’s high in protein and features a variety of fruits and vegetables. This is important because of the role protein plays in our body’s functions, especially in the maintenance of muscle mass, which tends to decrease as we age.
If you still struggle with making changes to get more of the nutrients you need, the National Institute on Aging recommends making healthy food “shifts.” The idea is that, instead of trying to overhaul your whole diet at once, you can gradually swap out less nutritious foods for ones that are packed with more of what your body needs. For example, try shifting from fruit snack bars to fresh fruit, or from solid fats like butter to healthy fats like olive oil.
Keeping your goals simple in this way also makes it easier to focus on what you’re adding to your diet, rather than what you’re taking away. Plus, when you’re intentional about getting the right nutrients, you’ll naturally end up consuming fewer unhealthy foods. When you do this consistently, you will reap the benefits of a healthier, fuller life.
Article written by guest Jennifer McGregor
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