by Rachel Stewart
Did you know that your nutritional needs change as you age? From a slowing metabolism to changes in appetite, older adults face unique nutritional issues.
The National Institute on Aging recommends that adults age 50 and older vary their caloric needs based on their activity levels. Sedentary women should eat around 1,600 calories every day, whereas active women can eat up to 2,200 calories each day. Men who aren’t active should limit their daily calorie intake to 2,000 a day, whereas active men can eat up to 2,800 calories.
Since the risk for both hypertension and heart disease rises with age, older adults should limit salt and fat intake to maintain normal blood-pressure levels. Cutting out processed foods, such as frozen meals or canned goods, can help limit daily sodium intake. Reducing fat intake is also important, so swap out red meat for a heart-healthy protein, such as chicken, fish, seafood or plant sources, such as beans or lentils.
5 Tips to Feel Your Best
- Be smart with supplements. Depending on your health needs, you may need a vitamin or mineral supplement. Many seniors lack vitamin B12, which helps maintain brain function. Many foods are fortified with this vitamin, but a supplement could help. Seniors may also lack vitamin D. Eating eggs, fatty fish, or drinking fortified milk can ensure you get enough of this bone-building vitamin. Before you begin taking any vitamins or other over-the-counter medications, speak with your doctor.
- Stick to fresh foods whenever possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals you need to maintain a healthy weight and increase your natural immunity. Be sure to include lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains to round out your diet. Pre-packaged foods may be more convenient in a pinch, but they typically have added sodium, sugar, and fat you don’t need.
- Try eating smaller, more frequent meals. Don’t feel like eating large meals anymore? Fix six small meals throughout the day instead. Preparing meals ahead of time that can be frozen and heated up later can make healthy eating at home easier.
- Dine with friends or family. Mealtimes don’t have to be lonely, which can lead to decreased appetite. Invite a friend or family member over, or plan or attend a potluck when possible.
- Consider your current medications. Some prescriptions can cause fluctuations in your appetite. Talk to your physician about these changes and try alternate medications, if possible.