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Food choices as we age

As we get older, one of the simplest ways to stay healthy is to make the right food choices. Eating should ideally be a balance between an enjoyable social activity, and a way to get the nutrients we need. 

We may need more of some nutrients, but require less calories. Our taste preferences and digestion can also change, meaning that eating the same quantity and types of food at 60 as we did at 30 may not be so beneficial. We’ve outlined some basic benefits of healthy eating and tips for staying on top of things.

Benefits of healthy eating

We all know there are many benefits associated with healthy eating, but specific benefits of the right foods as we age include:

  • Physical – improved muscle and bone health, which assists with maintaining strength and reducing the risks of falls.
  • Mental – increased memory function and self-esteem, while reducing the likelihood of depression. 
  • Illness and disease – high blood pressure and cholesterol, cancer and dementia can all be reduced. 
  • Organs – kidney, liver and eyes can all function better due to the right nutrients.

Change it up

Eating a variety of foods promotes good health, keeps food interesting and reduces the risk of developing an intolerance or allergy to certain foods. Aim to change your meals each day and eat something from each food group daily.

Monitor your meals

Try getting into a routine and have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Avoid skipping meals. Aim to stay hydrated by keeping a jug of water within eyesight at home and taking a drink bottle with you when you’re out.

Adapt to your situation

  • Budget – if your budget is limited, try planning ahead with cooking, only buy what you need and don’t let food in the pantry or fridge go to waste.
  • Health level – Your current health and the amount of physical activity you do has a direct impact on the recommended types and serving sizes of meals. Whether it takes you longer to digest meals, some foods you used to love now taste bland or you drink less water because you’re not as thirsty as you once were, everyone has different challenges.
  • Eating for one – If you’re regularly cooking for one, try going for simple recipes that are rich in calcium and iron, while low in saturated fat, added sugars and salt.

Consult your doctor or nutritionist for help coming up with a meal plan that’s specific to your own situation.