Many of us, seniors and those not yet seniors, are bombarded with health messages every day about which foods we need to eat, super foods that will keep us young and foods that will prevent diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Unfortunately, not all of those “health messages” are really healthy for us.
Sometimes it is difficult to separate fact from fiction or to identify someone who is out to sell you something no matter the consequences. We are left to our own best judgment to pick the right meals and avoid causing harm with things we should be avoiding or simply ignoring it all and doing what makes you happy, accepting negative consequences such as obesity.
We recommend seeking out advice from trusted sources with research behind them, such as the American Heart Association, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Diabetes Association. We can also trust the information from the USDA, which bases their recommendations on evidence.
We will break down their recommendations for you here so that you and your senior loved one can begin making changes that will improve your health as you both age. It is NEVER too late (or too early) to make positive changes in your food intake and lifestyle to reap benefits in your health!
The American Heart Association – To Help Prevent Heart Disease, Lower Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure
- Use as many calories as you take in (in other words—stay active and burn off your food calories with regular physical activity)
- Be sure to eat a variety of nutritious foods each day. To get all the nutrients you need, choose foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products most often.
- Don’t smoke
- Know and manage blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Take charge of your cholesterol by knowing your number and affecting it through diet choices
- Use flavors and seasonings instead of salt
The American Institute for Cancer Research – To Help Prevent Cancer
- Choose mostly plant-based foods, limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat; phytochemicals in plants prevent cell damage which may lead to cancer
- Be physically active every day, in any way, for at least 30 minutes
- Aim for a healthy weight throughout your entire life – as you age, your body needs fewer calories to maintain its current weight so use lower calorie, nutrient dense foods to satisfy hunger without gaining weight
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
The American Diabetes Association – To Control Blood Sugar
- Learn to eat well-balanced meals in the correct amounts
- Stay fit and get to a healthy weight
- Take your prescribed medications
- Know your blood sugar number and keep it in the right range
USDA – To Eat a Well Balanced, Healthy Diet Every Day
- MyPlate, a simple, powerful visual cue to promote healthier eating at mealtimes. You can use the Super Tracker to evaluate your menus and create a meal plan with fitness goals to keep you and your senior on track. MyPlate is supported by tools and resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, our nation’s fundamental policy reflecting the latest science on diet, health and physical activity.
Are you sensing a trend here? Each national organization helping us stay well are all encouraging us to get moving, get to a normal weight, and eat right!
Remember small changes – one new change every day – will payback in big benefits for healthy aging.