Nutrition is a fundamental part of aging well, which is our focus at LifeLinks. The saying “you are what you eat” doesn’t take a very scientific approach to explaining nutrition, but the sentiment is completely correct. Altering the food we consume can have a huge impact on our physical, and somewhat surprisingly, mental health. As we age, it’s our responsibility to monitor how we handle nutrition. However, this subject is oftentimes presented in an overbearing or confusing way. We’ll explain ten major, simple, and achievable goals for aging health.
1. Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals ahead of time will allow you to make sure you have covered all your bases, in terms of food groups, nutrients, and flavor! Sunday is a great day to plan your meals for the week, and determine what you need from the grocery store. Even if you start thinking about what you want for dinner two or three hours ahead of time, it can make a big difference. Sometimes, we get caught up in the day and the food we eat becomes an afterthought. This can lead to malnutrition, and just not enjoying your food as much.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
It’s no coincidence that our body is made up of 60% water, and drinking lots of water correlates to better health. As you age, bodily functions that are critical to your health are improved by consuming the right amount of water. Digestion, transportation of nutrients, and circulation are all processes that benefit from water. Dehydration is a dangerous thing, and it’s easily avoidable by making sure you’ve always got a water bottle with you. Experts suggest drinking about a half of a gallon of water everyday.
3. Ask Your Doctor about Supplements like Vitamins
Supplements aren’t for everyone, but as you age they may become a helpful addition to your diet. Pills are never the answer in and of themselves, but paired with proper nutrition and exercise, vitamin supplements can play an important role in ensuring your body is getting the right resources.
4. Keep It Healthy: Fruits/Vegetables/Whole Grains
This is the tip everyone sees coming: eat healthy foods. What you might not have seen coming is that this is easier than you think! At the end of the day, you want to understand what you’re eating. If you are ever reading a label, and you see words you can’t pronounce, it might be a good idea to limit the amount of that food you eat. It’s also important to point out that just like a lot of things, moderation is important for nutrition. You have to enjoy that cheesecake every now and again! To learn more specifics about what you should be eating, visit The National Institute of Aging’s healthy eating page here.
5. Don’t Rush At The Table
Eating slowly and being mindful of the food that you are eating are important components of maintaining a healthy diet. Take your time at the table! Savoring each bite will allow you to slow down, enjoy your food, and control your portions. It’s been proven that if you eat more slowly, you consume less calories. Learn more here!
6. Make Eating a Social Experience
This goal isn’t attainable all of the time, but making plans for social eating events can be a great way to connect with people and appreciate both food and company. This also will help with goal number 5! It’s much easier to take your time and be mindful of the food you’re eating when you’re visiting with friends or family.
7. Calcium For Stronger Bones
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weaker and more brittle. You become more prone to it as you age, and so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calcium to keep your bones strong. Milk is a great source of calcium, and can be a great way to ensure you’re getting calcium in your diet. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are a variety of other ways to get calcium like beans, salmon, and oatmeal. This is also a good example of when supplements might be right for you.
8. Use Your Favorite Spice
This just in: food is supposed to taste good! Salt and pepper are the easiest and simplest way to immediately improve the taste of your food. But, you can always get more creative with it! Try cooking with spices that you’ve never tried before. Squeeze a lemon or a lime on your fish. Try some cinnamon on those sweet potatoes. Be creative, and experiment with new flavor
9. Control Portions
Portioning is an integral part to any proper nutrition. This goal mixes well with not rushing at the table, and being mindful of what you’re eating. Another useful and quick test to determine if you’re eating well and portioning correctly is to look at your plate and see a variety of colors around your plate.
10. Stay Away from Sugar
A milkshake never killed anyone, but too much sugar too frequently can create serious health problems. It’s important to treat yourself every now and again, but only eat high sugar content foods in moderation. A typical and appropriate number of grams of sugar to consume in a day is about 20-30 grams. It’s also important to point out that just because something says it’s low-fat, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. Often times, low fat items will contain high amounts of sugar.
Need Any Help?
If you are looking for any assistance with respect to regulating you or your loved ones diet, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our care managers are trained to understand exactly what foods should be eaten under any circumstance, and can take a personalized approach to any person’s nutrition. Call 615-595-8929 or visit http://www.lifelinks.care/contact-care-manager to get in touch with LifeLinks.