Healthy eating is not just about dieting and sacrifice. It is a lifestyle that embraces colorful food, creativity in the kitchen and eating with friends. For seniors, the benefits of healthy eating can increase their energy levels, mental acuteness and immune system. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced.
Eating well is a feast for your body! Good nutrition keeps all body parts strong and healthy, allowing you to live longer and stronger. Eating vitamin-rich foods will boost your immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Those who eat a selection of brightly colored fruit, leafy veggies, certain fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve their mental focus and decrease their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a self-esteem boost. It’s all connected—when your body feels good you feel happier inside and out.
So how many calories do seniors need per day? The National Institute on Aging released the following guidelines.
A woman over 50 who is:
• Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
• Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
• Very active needs about 2000 calories a day
A man over 50 who is:
• Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
• Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
• Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day
A balanced meal is more than just calorie counting. The US Department of Agriculture provides a recommended food pyramid for older adults. Eating at least 2 cups each of fruits and vegetables are important for your body to absorb fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants. Calcium is important for aging bones and the USDA recommends at least 3 cups a day. It can be found in dairy items, like milk, yogurt and cheese, or non dairy items, like tofu, broccoli and almonds. Your body also needs no more than 6 ounces each of whole grains and proteins. Lastly, water, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are essential for maintaining a balanced diet.
Eating well is important for your body, both physically and mentally and for maintaining a long and healthy life. Remember, you are what you eat, so take the time to prepare a colorful meal for you and your loved ones.