Healthy eating for older adults is so important because as you get older, it’s important you continue to eat well. Changes in your body result in lower energy (calorie) requirements.
It is therefore important to reduce portion sizes if activity is low, and to cut down on sugary snacks such as cakes and buns.
What to eat
The Eatwell Guide is used to show the different types of foods commonly eaten and the proportions that are recommended to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. No single food provides all the nutrients we need, so it is important to include a wide variety of foods in the diet.
The Eatwell Guide is split into four main food groups:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods
- Dairy and alternatives
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and other proteins
Fruit and vegetables
Healthy eating for older adults means eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent heart disease and some types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and are low in fat.
There are many varieties to choose from including fresh, frozen, dried and tinned. You should choose fruit tinned in juice rather than syrup, and vegetables in water rather than brine.
A portion is about 80g, for example:
- one medium-sized piece of fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear)
- two small fruits (kiwi, satsumas, plums)
- one large slice of pineapple or melon
- one tablespoon of dried fruit (raisins or three apricots)
- one cereal bowl of salad
- three heaped tablespoons of fresh or frozen vegetables (frozen peas, mashed carrot, parsnips or turnip)
- one small glass (150ml) of fresh fruit juice or a smoothie
Dried fruit, fruit juices and smoothies can each be counted as only one portion a day, however much you have.
It’s recommended that dried fruit and juices are limited to meal times as the high sugar content means they can be damaging to teeth if taken between meals.
Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
You should eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre. Starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta are a good source of energy, fibre and B vitamins and should be used as the basis for meals.
Choose higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or simply leaving the skins on potatoes. As well as being low in fat and high in fibre, they are good sources of other essential nutrients – protein, vitamins and minerals.
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