Maintaining proper nutrition as we age is important to help prevent age related complications like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic health conditions. Your needs and habits change as you get older; you will likely need fewer calories, you may experience a loss in appetite, medical conditions may influence diet change, some of your medications may interact with certain foods and nutritional supplements, and changes in your home life may influence changes in your eating patterns.
Creating a meal plan can help in several ways by adjusting how much you eat, the times you eat, and what foods you choose. When choosing a meal plan you should consult your physician or a registered dietitian to help determine an appropriate calorie level, exercise level, discuss lifestyle changes needed, and strategies to change the way you eat to help you achieve your goals. Don’t forget that it is important to keep it simple and balanced.
A healthy meal plan should take into account your lifestyle, likes, dislikes, and include all food groups to maintain key vitamins and minerals to maintain your overall health. Although you can indulge yourself occasionally, there are four primary groups for a healthy diet:
- Lean protein
Wild game, fish, chicken, and lean beef are great sources of lean protein. Eating 15% to 20% of your calorie intake from these types of protein rich foods is optimal for a balanced diet.
- Fruits and Vegetables
About 50% of each meal should consist of fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always the first choice but sometimes convenience and cost can play a factor in choosing our produce, if you a choose canned varieties try to stay away from those with added salt or syrups.
- Whole grains
Whole grains are rich in nutrients and fiber which can help lower your risk for heart disease, help prevent type 2 Diabetes, help control weight, and helps keep digestion regular.
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy
As we age we have an increase requirement for calcium and vitamin D making it important to consume dairy regularly. To reduce the risk of Osteoporosis it is important to consume 3 servings of dairy per day to help promote bone health.
Now that you have a plan, implement it and stick to it. But remember to consult your physician immediately if you experience unintentional weight loss or loss of appetite. It can be caused by an underlying health condition not just a normal sign of aging.