Promoting healthy and enjoyable eating in the elderly

The saying, “You are what you eat,” is true.

A healthy diet provides the ingredients to build and repair bones and tissues, and keep the complex workings of the human body functioning optimally. It also provides the mental and physical energy necessary for daily life – work, recreation, relationships and time with family. It is clear that a healthy diet also protects us from infectious illnesses and chronic diseases so that we may age with a minimum of ill health, pain, and disability.

Food and nutrition during older age

Nutrition deserves special attention as people reach older age because good nutrition is essential for good health. Healthy ageing is associated with a number of physiological, cognitive, social and lifestyle changes that influence dietary intakes and nutritional status. Access to and consumption of healthy food for older people is influenced by the wider determinants of health. These determinants include cultural, social, historical and economic factors.

The basics of eating well

Healthy eating promotes and supports social, physical and mental well being. It also minimizes the risk and supports the management of many chronic diseases.

Healthy eating is a pattern of eating that contributes to your best possible health through positive relationships with food and diverse, balanced food choices that meet your needs for nutrients and energy.

Get moving! Where does physical activity fit?

Being active is essential for our bodies and minds! It’s just as important as eating well to keep you doing all the things you love or need to do, as well as prevent or manage chronic diseases. Just some of these benefits include:

• maintaining independence

• maintaining mobility

• improving fitness

• maintaining a healthy muscle mass and strength

• stronger bones

• improving mental health and feeling better.

How do I eat well?


* eat regular meals and snacks

* try not to get too hungry as this may lead you to choose less healthy foods or portion sizes that are too big

* eat a variety of nutritious foods

* pay attention to your fullness cues so you know when to stop eating.

* limit consumption of highly processed foods

* eat at home more often than eating out

* share meals with family, friends, or others

* try not to eat with distractions, such as the TV or computer

* choose water to drink most often.


• vegetables and fruit

(fresh, frozen or canned)

• whole grains (oats, brown

rice, barley, quinoa, pasta,

bread, roti, bannock made

from whole grain flour)

• legumes

(beans, peas, lentils)

• fish and seafood

• calcium-rich foods (milk,

yogurt, leafy greens,

fortified soy beverage)

• unsaturated fats (vegetable

oils, nuts, and seeds)

• lean meat and poultry

• tofu

• eggs • highly processed foods (frozen dinners, packaged foods such as chips and cookies) • deli meats, bacon and sausages • deep-fried foods • trans fats and hydrogenated oils • refined grains (white bread, flour, rice, pasta) • salty foods (chips, pickles, condiments) • added sugar (candies, ice cream, baked goods, jams) • sugary drinks (pop, sweetened coffees, energy and fruit drinks)

What's in a Good Diet

Usually, you get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need with a well-balanced diet, but many older adults don’t. Here are some areas that often fall short.

B vitamins. Keep a close eye on vitamins B6, B12, and folate also called folic acid. You can often get all three in cereals with added vitamins. You also get:

B6 in whole grains and organ meats, like liver

B12 in lean meats and some fish

Folate from dark greens, beans, and peas

Calcium and vitamin D. These are important for strong bones. Calcium is in dairy products, like milk and yogurt, and in dark, green, leafy vegetables, like broccoli and kale. You get vitamin D from being out in the sun. That can be harder for someone who’s unwell, so look for products with added vitamin D.

Fiber. Fiber is good for the heart, helps prevent diabetes, and keeps you regular to avoid constipation. Good sources include beans, whole grains, and veggies.

Healthy fats. Try to limit fat (especially saturated) and cholesterol, and totally avoid trans fats. They can lead to heart and blood pressure problems.

Potassium. Not eating enough potassium can raise blood pressure. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources, as are some legumes (e.g., soybeans) ،banana and potatoes. Meats, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, and nuts also contain potassium.

Sodium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all persons over the age of 50 consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day — which is closer to the Adequate Intake than the Upper Intake Level. Keeping your sodium intake below this reduced recommendation is particularly important if you are also African American or have chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Reading through this article is a good start to healthy eating.

Reading through this article is a good start to healthy eating. You can also talk to a dietitian or your health-care provider for nutrition information and advice.

Why do I need to eat well to age well?

No matter when you start, healthy eating can help you maintain and even improve your health—especially if you combine it with being active.

Growing older means getting used to a body that’s different from the one you had when you were younger. It doesn’t mean that you will immediately have all sorts of health problems or diseases—bad health and poor quality of life is not automatic as soon as you become a senior. In fact, many people find it a time of great growth and happiness.

Together, eating well and regular physical activity can help you adjust to the natural aging process and can mean the difference between independence and a life spent relying on others.

They can give you the energy to do the things you need and want to do, such as taking care of your home, working or volunteering, playing with your grandchildren, or enjoying a walk with friends.

They can also prevent or slow the progress of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer. And it can help you cope better with both physical and mental stress, surgery and even the common cold or flu.

Eating and appreciating wholesome foods can be enjoyable. The purpose of this article is to give you reliable information about the foods you should try to eat more regularly and give you practical information to get them on your plate in an easy way.