Nutritional needs vary from one person to another. However, some strategies can help everyone maintain a healthy diet.
As you age, your caloric needs will probably decrease, while your nutrient needs stay the same or increase. Eating nutrient -rich foods will help you get the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need. You can get most of your calories from nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables and fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein.
Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system. Try to have fiber rich foods at every meal. Soluble fiber is especially important for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Good sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, oats and oat bran and whole grains. If you find yourself relying on convenience foods choose the healthiest options. For example, these foods can be easy to prepare and nutritious: Frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables, frozen unsweetened fruit or low-sugar canned fruit, precooked grilled turkey or rotisserie chicken, low sodium canned soup or stews, bagged salad or cole slaw mix, instant oatmeal and steamer bags of veggies in either the produce or freezer sections of grocery stores. Always check the labels on prepackaged foods. Choose options that contain less added sugar, saturated fat, and salt and more fiber.
You'll probably need fewer calories as you age to maintain a healthy weight. Eating more calories than you burn leads to weight gain. You may find you have less energy and more muscle or joint problems as you get older. As a result, you may become less mobile and burn fewer calories through physical activity. You may lose muscular mass. This causes your metabolism to slow down, lowering your caloric needs.
As you age, you become more susceptible to chronic health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. To help prevent or treat these conditions, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.
Portions of this article was medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD,LD and written by Tara Gidus, MS,RD,CSSD,LD/N