What are the benefits of a healthy diet?

Eating healthy can help you age well and maintain a good quality of life by:

  • Preventing muscle and bone loss which will lower your risk of falls or breaking bones.
  • Providing energy and important nutrients to your body.
  • Preventing, lowering the risk, or slowing down chronic diseases such as:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Osteoporosis
    • Some cancers

As you age, it can be difficult to eat a well-rounded diet due to:

  • A decreased appetite and interest in food.
  • Changes in how you digest, chew, or swallow food.
  • Change in ability to prepare food or go grocery shopping.
  • Less income.
  • Cooking for one or two people.
  • Eating alone more often.
  • Side effects from medication that changes your appetite and taste.

Even though you may be dealing with changes as you age, there are still small steps you can take towards achieving a healthy diet.

Healthy eating tips:

Eat a variety of different foods:

  • Choose a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and protein to make sure you are getting different nutrients.
  • Aim for about half your plate or meal to be fruits and vegetables, a quarter to be whole grain foods and the last quarter to be foods high in protein.
  • Anyone over the age of 50 would benefit from taking a daily Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.
  • Try adding spices and herbs to food to give it more flavor.
  • Experiment with different textures (such as mashed) if you are having troubles eating.

Drink enough water:

  • Even if you don’t feel thirsty it is still important to drink fluids throughout the day and with each meal and snack.
  • Soup, milk, tea and coffee count as sources of hydration
  • Choose water over sugary drinks.

Cooking for 1 or 2:

  • Prepare food when you have the most energy.
  • Try recipes that are simple and use few ingredients for when you are tired to cook.
  • Cook extra food to give you leftovers.
    • Freeze or refrigerate.
  • Meals on Wheels is a good option from time to time to have prepared meals delivered to you.

Eat with others when possible:

  • Being social during mealtimes is good for your health.
  • When social distancing orders are in place, trying eating with a family member or friend over video chat or a phone call.
  • Find different ways to enjoy yourself when eating alone.
    • Try a new recipe.
    • Eat in a different setting such as outside.
    • Listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook.

For additional resources on healthy eating, check out Stay on Your Feet’s Healthy Aging Toolkit.