Everyone knows the significance of adhering to a healthy and balanced diet; nonetheless, knowing and doing in many cases are worlds apart. For older adults, it is even more vital to steer clear of the temptations of making unhealthy food choices – and, typically, more challenging. For most seniors, lifestyle choices are impacted by various factors:
- Prescription complications that influence taste and/or appetite
- Loss of family members, making mealtime a lonely time
- Lack of interest in cooking for only one
- And others
But there is one prevailing – yet little mentioned – explanation for unhealthy eating in seniors: financial constraints. Older adults on a budget may find it challenging to afford fresh, healthy foods that commonly cost a lot more than a fast food meal or can of soup. These healthy eating tips for seniors from the National Council on Aging can help:
- Bear in mind that sticking with a wholesome diet can considerably improve health, with the possibility of preventing doctor visits and hospitalizations – saving older adults money in the end.
- See if a senior you love is eligible for SNAP, a government program that covers the cost for fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits. Go to BenefitsCheckUp.org to determine eligibility. The average benefit to seniors is $100/month.
- Check into the older adult’s local Meals on Wheels program, which provides nutritious meals to the elderly, along with the added benefit of a friendly volunteer who will deliver the food and improve socialization.
- If throwing away fresh food is a worry for an older adult who lives alone, frozen vegetables and fruits are a good option, making it possible for quick preparation of individual-sized portions.
Keep the following in mind to make sure your older loved ones are making the very best food choices:
- Review the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate for the elderly with specific dietary and exercise suggestions for individuals 65 and older.
- Aim for a plethora of colors, specifically brightly-colored foods such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, etc.
- Include lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, keeping sodium and sugar to a minimum while ensuring plenty of high fiber and nutrients which can be particularly essential in aging, such as vitamin D.