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A senior couple enjoys a healthy meal prepared for them in an aged care centre.

Healthy ageing is harder than anyone thinks and having smart food choices for seniors is one of its many factors. This is something that elderly carers should also carefully look into.

When it comes to healthy ageing, weight is something to look out for. Most of the time, excess weight can mean higher risks for certain diseases like diabetes and heart problem. However, as people move to their 50’s or 60’s, metabolism becomes a problem. It tends to slow down with age because of the lost muscle mass. This is the reason why the previous diet (at age 30 for e.g.) can make someone gain weight at age 60.

Why Encourage Smart Food Choices for Seniors

It is not just metabolism that slows down with age. Likewise, the sense of taste and smell get affected too. In fact, the number of taste buds decreases with age. Additionally, the sense of smell diminishes. On top of these, certain medications to treat conditions associated with age like hypertension also have their ill effects. These are some of the reasons why food appears less appealing to older people. When this happens, they tend to binge on salty and sugary foods. Unfortunately, these aren’t smart food choices for seniors as they can further aggravate several health conditions.

Tips To Start Making Smart Food Choices for Seniors

Discipline is the ultimate key to undergo healthy ageing by making smart food choices. On the contrary, the elderly may not have enough time or mobility to prepare healthy foods for themselves. So, as their carer, proper nutrition must be considered. Start with the following tips so they can get the most out of the food they eat:

1. Eat foods with varied texture and colour to make eating more interesting.

2. Consider other whole grains such as whole-wheat couscous, freekeh, buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur, and barley.

3. Prepare a nutrition plan for the elderly. First, identify the goals and then use the Supertracker website to generate a meal plan for seniors.

4. Be aware of portion sizes when serving meals for the elderly.

Examples of Smart Food Choices for Seniors

Smart food choices for seniors exclude high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional value. These are even called “empty calories” for this reason. Some of these are artificially-sweetened and flavoured drinks, potato chips, candies, and more.

Now, it is better to replace these with nutrient-dense foods. Examples are:

1. Pre-cooked, extra lean ground beef turned into a 4-ounce patty.

2. One large green apple at 8 ounces.

3. Two slices of whole-wheat bread.

4. Three ounces of a skinless roasted chicken breast.

These will make them feel full and give them the kind of nutrition they need for their age.

Smart Food Choices for Seniors: 100-Calorie Snacks

For seniors who love to eat a snack between major meals, here are some ideas to put on their plate.

1. One whole banana.

2. Two ounces of baked chicken, breast part, and without the skin.

3. Around 3 cups of low-fat popcorn.

4. A half cup of low-fat ice cream.

5. One large scrambled egg.

6. Peanuts (if not allergic)!

Now, carers should also know that the elderly have different calorie requirements a day than them. For those over age 50 who want to maintain their current weight, here are their daily calorie requirements:

  • Women who are not physically active need 1,600 calories.
  • Women who are moderately active need 1,800 calories.
  • Women who live active lifestyles need 2,000 to 2,200 calories.
  • Men who are not physically active require 2,000 to 2,200 calories.
  • Men who are moderately active require 2,200 to 2,400 calories.
  • Men who have active lifestyles require 2,400 to 2,800 calories.

As you notice, it takes proper information to assist in making smart food choices for seniors. By having a well-balanced diet, they are able to achieve healthy ageing. Of course, these foods for seniors must also be accompanied with regular exercise fit for their age and mobility. Make sure to also encourage them to always maintain a positive spirit. All these are components of healthy ageing.

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