Eating Better As We Grow Older

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Some things you never outgrow, like your need for healthful eating. Whether you are 50 or 90, active or homebound, your food choices will affect your overall health in the years ahead. Through a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, you can reduce your risk for certain diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. While healthy living can’t turn back the clock, it can help you feel good longer.

Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet – one that provides:

  • Minerals and vitamins
  • Calories from proteins, carbohydrates, and some fat Include a variety of foods from each major food group shown in the box on the left. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests the following to maximize the benefits of healthy eating:
  • Eat a good breakfast every day o Use fruits, milk, yogurt, hot or cold cereal, low fat cheeses, and instant breakfast mixes o Try low-fat milk and a bran-flake-type cereal; you will get calcium, B-complex vitamins, and fiber
  • Get enough protein o Rotate skinless chicken, fish, and lean meats as main courses o Have daily doses of whole grains, nuts, seeds, peas, and dry beans o Use low- or non-fat dairy products regularly o Eat eggs occasionally
  • Drink plenty of water o It makes up more than half your body composition, and must be replaced daily o You need it to regulate body temperature, digest foods, and prevent constipation o Drinking coffee, tea and alcohol increases water loss o Exercise increases the need for water
  • Fiber is important o It aids in digestion, prevents constipation, decreases cholesterol and blood sugar o Eat whole grain cereals o Eat vegetables (and fruits) raw when possible, with skin o Add dry beans to soups, stews, and salads  Minimize high sugar and processed foods o Sweets and desserts tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients o Soda pops and other sugared drinks are poor beverage choices (try water instead) o Minimize use of table sugar and syrups Remember that a healthy lifestyle includes exercising. Incorporating exercise into your daily life allows you the luxury of eating more food without feeling guilty.