One of the key elements for your parents to age well is their diet. Eating the right nutrients and the right amount can offer several benefits
Yet this can become more of a challenge as they grow older. It’s vital that solutions be found and a better understanding of healthy eating is a great place to start.
Should our diets change?
Yes. Our metabolism does slow down as we get older and if you continue to eat the same amount of calories and don’t increase your exercising, it will be hard to maintain your weight.
There are specific nutrients that are needed and so it’s even more important that your parents be careful when choosing the right foods so that they will receive the value they need.
Here are a few tips to help your parents gain a better understanding of healthy dining and how to adjust their eating habits, according to the National Council on Aging:
- Learn what a healthy plate looks like
Instead of the familiar food pyramid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed MyPlate, a simple graphic that you can access here. It makes it easy to see how the five food groups should be included.
- Look for important nutrients
Your plate should look like a rainbow with bright, colored foods. Try to create a healthy meal that includes:
- Lean protein
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Read the “Nutrition Facts” label
The healthiest foods are whole foods, often found on the perimeter of the grocery store in the produce, meat and dairy sections. Be cautious with packaged foods and read the labels to find those items lower in fat, added sugars and sodium.
- Follow the recommended daily servings guidelines
You’ll need to eat the right amount of food for your age and body. One recommendation is to follow the daily recommendations for adults aged 60+ provided by The American Heart Association.
- Stay hydrated
Water is also a nutrient and an important one at that. Tea and coffee cause the body to eliminate water, so they should be consumed in moderation. Drink small amounts of fluids consistently during the day. Sugar drinks should be kept at a minimum.
Aging and eating well: the benefits
The advantages of a well-balanced and nutritious diet range from the physical to the emotional. The impact it makes is well worth the effort. Your parent may experience these benefits from a healthy diet:
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Risk reduction of certain cancers
- Improvement in mood
- Improvement in digestion
- Better memory function
- Promotion of weight loss and maintaining healthy weight
- Decreased risk of diabetes or help in managing it
- Help in building strong bones
- Help in promoting a restful sleep
How assisted living can support your parents’ healthy diet
One of the bigger challenges of growing older is eating well. It may become more of a struggle for your parents to plan, shop and prepare nutritious meals. Lifestyle changes can lead to a loss of interest in eating healthy, especially if they are experiencing loneliness or depression.
Certain medications can alter digestion or your loved one may be losing their sense of taste or appetite, all conditions making it harder to eat well. But regardless of the reason, there may be an increased reliance on prepared foods, unhealthy snacks or skipping a meal altogether.
Among the many benefits of assisted living, receiving healthy and delicious meals are one of the most impactful.
You’ll find chef-prepared or inspired meals that are created with the older palate in mind. Using the appeal of taste, color and texture, your loved one may eat better than they have in a long time. Nutritious food is far from tasteless. By using certain spices and seasoning, the residents don’t need to sacrifice flavor but can also rely less on salt and sugar.
The preparation and planning of meals can be left to someone else. An assisted living community has the knowledge of what makes up a healthy meal and how to take care of any specialized dietary needs. They understand the connection between nutritious ingredients and the influence they can have on health.
Your parents will find healthy snacks available throughout the day, which can match the needs of the older appetite by eating less but more often. You’ll also know they are able to enjoy a more independent life when they have the choices of what and when to eat.
They will also benefit beyond the healthy advantages of nutritious ingredients and menu choices when they eat with others. A meal is a wonderful gift to be shared and your parents will benefit from being social. Whether it’s eating together with their friends or a family member, the advantage of conversation, laughter and good food makes for a very healthy combination.
Life at Tapestry Senior Living communities
We understand how critical a healthy diet can be, especially to those who are growing older. We also take pride in going beyond just preparing nutritious food but also making it appeal to the tastes and appetites of our residents.
If you’re interested in all the options community life might offer your parents, we invite you to consider one of our Tapestry Senior Living communities, where you’ll find:
- An active and engaged community who supports each resident to live life to the fullest
- Eating well and staying in shape is easy with our chef-inspired meals and fitness center
- A wide choice of activities to challenge your mind – or just to have fun
- Meeting and making new friends naturally at our many activities and social events
- And much more!
We understand that choosing the right community is an important decision. If you would like more information, we invite you to download our complimentary guide which contains helpful information for families considering senior living, Should You Stay or Should You Go?
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a personal tour, please contact one of our advisors at a community near you.