Eating Well as You Grow Older

A group of seniors gather together during a meal

As we get older, it can be difficult to eat well and nutritiously. This is especially true when preparing meals for one or two people. Sometimes it’s easier or quicker to eat processed food that’s loaded with sugar and salt. Sometimes loneliness takes away our appetites or physical issues prevent us from eating.

If you’re having trouble getting started on a healthy eating plan, these tips can help:

Talk to Your Doctor

Ask your doctor if a medical condition or medication is affecting your appetite and/or weight. Addressing untreated medical conditions and/or adjusting medications, dosages or medication schedules may make a difference.

Pack in the Nutrients

What you put into your body matters. Prioritize protein to preserve lean body mass and calcium to prevent bone loss and fractures. Good sources of protein include lean meats like poultry, fish, eggs and beans. Dairy products, almonds and leafy greens are good sources of calcium.

Enhance Flavor

Taste buds change as we age. Spices and other ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, butter, marinades, onions and ginger can enhance taste and enjoyment. If you like a zing, you can add citrus or hot peppers.

Chew Smartly

It’s important to choose foods that you can chew comfortably and/or prepare foods in a way that aids chewing. Examples include cooking vegetables, making smoothies and slow-roasting meats and cutting them into small pieces.

Snack Wisely

Don’t be afraid to snack. In fact, eating a small meal or snack every two to three hours can help improve your appetite. Be sure to choose healthy snacks as much as possible. Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables, hummus, nuts, yogurt, oatmeal and cottage cheese.

Find Opportunities to Socialize

Local volunteer opportunities or senior centers can offer social occasions that allow you to enjoy meals with others. Assisted or independent living communities also offer many opportunities to socialize—and the best part is that trained, knowledgeable culinary professionals do the cooking and baking for you.

Stay Hydrated

Drink six to eight glasses of liquid a day, preferably water. Water helps your skin, hair, kidneys, brain and spinal cord stay healthy. It’s also essential for digestion. Feel free to add citrus to your water or opt for a cup of tea or low-fat soup; but limit your intake of alcohol, coffee and soda.

These tips are just a few ideas to help you not only eat well but also enjoy and look forward to your meals.

Note: This is not medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personal medical guidance.