It's no secret that we need to eat well to be healthy. But for something that is so essential to our health, nutrition can sometimes be complicated. One day research finds a certain food has incredible health benefits and the next week other research finds it may not necessarily be that good for you. No wonder it's sometimes hard to know what exactly you should be eating and what to avoid, especially as you age and your body changes.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet helps keep us energized and promotes overall health.
This National Nutrution Month, here are five healthy eating tips to keep in mind as you or your loved ones age:
1. Mind your plate
The USDA developed food patterns to provide people with guidelines as to what they should eat. It suggests that people over the age of 50 eat the following every day:
- Fruits — 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups
Did you know that a 1/2 cup of cut-up fruit is about the same as a 2-inch peach or 1/4 cup of dried fruit?
- Vegetables — 2 to 3-1/2 cups
Two cups of uncooked leafy vegetable is the same as a cup of cut-up vegetables.
- Grains — 5 to 10 ounces
What does an ounce of grains mean? It can be a small muffin, a slice of bread, a cup of flaked, ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta.
- Protein foods — 5 to 7 ounces
An ounce of protein can be one egg, ¼ cup of cooked beans, ½ ounce of nuts or seeds, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Dairy foods — 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
What is the same as 1 cup of milk? One cup of yogurt or 1-1/2 to 2 ounces of cheese. One cup of cottage cheese is the same as ½ cup of milk.
- Oils — 5 to 8 teaspoons
Oil can be added during cooking, or found in foods like olives, nuts, and avocado.
- Solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) — keep the amount of SoFAS small
If you eat too many foods containing SoFAS, you will not have enough calories for the nutritious foods you should be eating.
2. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important no matter what your age is, so make sure to drink plenty of water.
3. Track what you Eat
Keeping track of what you eat can play a simple yet important role in your nutrition. It may help you identify any unhealthy habits you have or can help your realize you are eating too much or not eating enough of a certain food group.
4. Read Your Labels
The healthiest foods are whole foods. These can often be found in the produce, meat, and dairy sections. When you do eat packaged foods, read the labels to understand exactly what is in the food you're thinking of purchasing. Ideally, you should look for items that are lower in fat, added sugars, and sodium.
5. Talk to your Doctor
When in doubt, always talk to your doctor about your nutritional concerns. Sometimes they may be able to make dietary suggestions or recommend supplements based on your personal medical history.
You can help seniors here in Chicago eat healthy.
During the weekends we rely on volunteer guest chefs to cook delicious and nutritious meals for our seniors who live in our Good Life Senior Residences. Being a Guest Chef on the weekend at Nathalie Salmon House or Pat Crowley House not only provides a meal for seniors, you also have the opportunity to bond with those who live in Good Life Senior Residences!
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