The Secret to Healthy Eating as You Age

April 11, 2018

by: The My Medicare Matters Team

What you eat determines how you feel. Choosing to embark on a healthier lifestyle means that you are providing your body with the best nutrients to improve your mood, reduce your risk for health conditions, and boost your energy. So with 80% of older adults having at least one chronic condition and 1 in 4 older adults experiencing some form of mental illness, being proactive with your health is the best thing you can do to live a long and healthy life.

These are 4 tips that will help usher you through the journey of healthy eating at any age.

1. Superfoods are your friend

These nutrient-rich items range across all 5 foods groups and provide health benefits to help you live a long and healthy life. Superfoods contain antioxidants and healthy fats that can reduce your risk for cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and prevent digestive issues. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Kale and other dark leafy greens

Their name may suggest that these foods have special powers, but the truth is they are just as healthy for you as many other fruits and vegetables. The difference is, these foods contain additional nutrients per serving, so consider picking up a handful of almonds or blueberries the next time you need an energy boost.

2. Suggested servings are in the palm of your hand

Dietary guidelines suggested you have a cup of this, a few ounces of that, and a teaspoon to top it all off. While dieticians and nutritionist mean well, it’s hard to stick to a health plan when it takes so much work determining servings sizes. A much easier way to measure servings is using your hand to get an estimate of home much food you should eat. For instance:

  • The palm of your hand = 3 – 4 ounces (suggesting protein serving)
  • Fist = 1 cup (suggested veggie serving)
  • Cupped hand = ½ cup (suggested carb serving)
  • Thumb = 1 – 2 tablespoons (suggested fats serving)
  • Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon (suggested oil serving)

Suggested serving sizes vary depending age and gender, but these tips can make it easier to plan healthier meals without any additional work.

3. Make sure your hydration well never runs dry

Remaining hydrated is one of the most important things you can do daily to remain healthy. For some older adults, their desire for fluids decreases as they age, which may be caused by the Medicines they may take. It is suggested that individuals drink at least 4 – 6 glasses of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and improve kidney function. You can also get your daily intake of water from a variety of sources like fruits, salads, and even applesauce.

4. SNAP to it

Eating healthy can be expensive, but every person should have the right to access affordable quality food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can provide monthly assistance with purchasing groceries if you meet their enrollment requirements. You can purchase almost any food you like using the SNAP debit card, which can save you to spend on the things you need most. To qualify for SNAP you must have a limited income and resources or high medical and living expenses. You can apply for these benefits and more using the National Council On Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp®.