Diet & Nutrition | Family Health
Older woman eating a salad

How Healthy Eating Can Help You to Age Better

Choose your foods well and make mealtimes enjoyable

Maintaining a healthy diet is important throughout our lives. But as we get older, the onset of medical conditions and lifestyle changes can lead to the need to adjust our eating habits.

As we age, health concerns may revolve around our memory, our safety and our ability to take care of ourselves. One easy way we can help manage these health issues is by eating right.

Keeping mealtime as a way to enjoy friends and family is another,  says Ami Hall, DO, medical director of the GEM program at Euclid Hospital.

“In addition, maintaining a regular schedule and not skipping meals and eating with others, which makes meal time more enjoyable, can be just as important as what we eat,” Dr. Hall says.

For some older adults, that may mean making a focused effort to eat regularly.

“We see many patients who have experienced weight loss, and for a variety of reasons,” Dr. Hall says. “The death of a spouse can lead to loneliness and depression, along with the added challenge of cooking for only one person.”

Other factors — such as illnesses, medications and change in metabolism or digestion — can lead to weight loss or gain.

Here are some ways that older adults can make sure they are eating for the maximum health benefit:

  • Add fiber to meals with food such as whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce your cholesterol and fat intake and make smarter choices by enjoying or preparing food with healthy fats, which include olive oil, avocados, salmon and walnuts.
  • Reduce salt consumption by seasoning dishes with garlic, herbs and other spices, and choosing foods that are low in sodium or have no added salt.
  • Avoid “white foods” like bread, rice and potatoes, which provide no long-term nutritional value.
  • Drink six 8-ounce glasses of water or other beverages daily and avoid those that contain caffeine and alcohol.
  • Maximize your vitamin D intake by increasing your exposure to sunlight and eat foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, canned tuna, egg yolks, fortified milk and cereal or supplements.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about how to eat right for your best health, Dr. Hall says. Your doctor may make other recommendations based on your unique medical history and overall state of health.

For example,  an older adult whose blood pressure drops when they stand up may need a diet higher in salt, she says.

“It’s important that older adults who experience changes in appetite and weight see a doctor before making any significant dietary changes,” Dr. Hall says.

Tags: carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, healthy diet, vitamin D, whole grains
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  • GeorgeBMac

    Unfortunately avoiding “white foods” – which all contain appropriate levels of protein, vitamins and minerals (especially if you choose the whole grain versions) – pushes folks into eating stuff like red meats and processed foods which are decidedly unhealthy.

  • Wartface

    I’m 62 and I love to smoke meat and grill it on my Big Green Egg. I also bake my sourdough bread on my Big Green Egg. I also cook my Chinese food on my Big Green Egg because I can get the wok up to 800 degrees. I also like to have a nice glass of wine with every meal. So… I’d rather die a little earlier and enjoy ALL of my meals than convert to the tasteless meals you are reccommending.

    A pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and beans is worth dying a little earlier for…!