As the year goes by many of our good eating habits can easily go by the wayside. Sure, this is the season when fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful, but so are fruit pies, ice cream stands and tailgating parties. Soon the holidays will be upon us and that means more opportunities to slide down the slippery sweet slope. Fall is a good time to pause, look in the fridge and pantry and yes, even step on the scale. As you grow older, continuing to eat the same types and amounts of food and not staying active will likely cause you to gain weight.
Explains the National Institute on Aging: “Your metabolism (how your body gets energy from food) can slow with age, and your body composition (amount of fat and muscle) may be different from when you were younger.
The energy your body gets from the nutrients in the food you eat is measured as calories. As a rule of thumb, the more calories you eat, the more active you have to be to maintain your weight. Likewise, the reverse is also true—the more active you are, the more calories you need. As you age, your body might need less food for energy, but it still needs the same amount of nutrients.”
What We Need to Know About Nutrients
We need nutrients and we should get them from healthy foods:
- Proteins from seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and unsalted nuts;
- Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low- fat dairy and whole grains;
- Fats from monounsaturated (olive, canola peanut and other oils and most nuts) and polyunsaturated (corn, walnuts and other seeds) foods.
But go light on the fats. The daily allowance Dietary Guidelines for people 51 years of age and older is 5 teaspoons for women and 6 teaspoons for men. The U.S. Department of Agriculture updates the guidelines every five years, which means the numbers could change in 2020
Other recommendations from the USDA include:
- Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for lower-sodium packaged foods;
- Add sliced fruits and vegetable to your meals and snacks;
- Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. If you cannot tolerate milk try small amounts of yogurt, buttermilk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.
What’s on Your Plate?
Habits can be hard to break. We shop for vegetables and always buy broccoli or cauliflower. What about okra or beets? We think our main meal of the day should have a portion of meat, poultry or fish. What about a healthy vegetable and whole-grain casserole?
Here are other tips from the National Institute on Aging:
- Make sure fruits and vegetables fill up half your plate;
- Consider the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan if you are concerned about high blood pressure. The plan contains less salt and sodium, sweets, added sugars, fats and red meats than the typical American eat
- Snacking is OK, just make sure your snacks are healthy – fruit, raw vegetables, peanut butter, nuts, etc.
- When eating out, consider ordering a couple of appetizers instead of an entrée, share an entrée with a friend or ask the server to bring a carry-out container with the meal.
How much you eat every day depends on how active you are. The calorie target for women over 50 years of age ranges from 1,600 to 2,200 and men 2,000 to 2,800.
If you like to eat, it may be time to get moving.
Eating is Just Half of the Equation
Fall is also a good time to recharge an exercise program or get involved in other physical activities, such as biking, hiking and walking. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity weekly. Talk to your doctor first if you are taking on a vigorous activity or have health concerns.
And the benefits of exercise aren’t just about weight, the National Institute on Aging reminds us. “Regular exercise can make it easier for you to do daily activities, participate in outings, drive, keep up with grandchildren, avoid falls and stay independent,” the institute explains.
10 Best Practices for Staying Healthy
Need some extra guidance to maintain a healthy lifestyle after age 60? We’re here to help!
Our guide, “10 Best Practices for Staying Healthy After Age 60,” will continue the conversation on healthy eating but also give you tips for staying socially active, keeping up with exercising and more. Download your copy below.
Free Guide: 10 Best Practices for Staying Healthy After 60
In our free guide, we share many actions you can take to live a long, healthy and happy life in body, mind and spirit!
In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.