National Nutrition Month has been going on all March long. And while it would be great for everyone to commit to a healthy diet, it’s harder for some people to bounce back from bad food choices than it is for others.
For older adults, those sugary and salty snacks can add up to a problem quickly. But you can help certain problems that get worse with age by making smart food decisions when you’re young and even when you’re older.
Eating better can make a huge difference in your overall health. Studies show a healthy diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Here are some things for older adults and their caregivers to keep in mind.
1. Choose healthy foods that help you eat a balanced diet, and always drink plenty of water. Foods and drinks with empty calories, like soda and chips, don’t do you any favors nutritionally and don’t help you feel full.
2. Your food choices affect your entire body. Choosing whole grains, fiber, fruits, and vegetables and drinking plenty of water can help you stay regular and keep good digestive health.
3. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure you check with your doctor about foods you should include, like foods high in calcium, or things you should avoid, like those high in salt.
4. Don’t let your teeth or dentures stand in the way of eating meat, fruits, or vegetables. Visit your dentist to check for problems or adjust the fit of your dentures so mealtime is easier.
5. If you feel like food is getting stuck in your throat, you may not have enough spit in your mouth. Drink plenty of liquids when you eat for help swallowing, and talk to your doctor to see if a condition or medicine you’re on could be causing your dry mouth.
6. Make cooking and eating fun. Invite friends for a potluck where you each make and bring one part of the meal. Try cooking a new recipe with a friend or stage a cook-off to see who makes the better dish. Plan a date with your loved one where you cook a meal together. Have dinner at a senior center, community center, or religious organization for an affordable way to meet new people.