Everyone knows that a proper diet is important for health and well-being, but what exactly entails “proper” nutrition isn’t always clear. This is especially true for seniors, who have some different nutrition requirements than younger adults.
While each person’s nutritional needs are dependent on their dietary concerns and unique tastes, some basic guidelines almost every senior should follow includes:
- Consume less than 1500mg of sodium each day
- Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil
- Choose complex carbs over simple carbs
- Eat multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Avoid overly processed foods, especially fast food
However, many don’t follow those guidelines and succumb to fad diets and other nutrition myths. To help dispel some of them, here’s a look at 7 Common Senior Nutrition Myths:
1. As you age, your metabolism slows down and you need fewer nutrients
While seniors who aren’t exercising regularly don’t need as many calories as younger people, they still need to be eating nutrient-dense foods. As we age, our bodies become more inefficient at absorbing certain vitamins and minerals, so it’s even more important that seniors are taking special care to eat right.
2. If you aren’t hungry, it’s okay to skip a meal
Many seniors are affected by a loss of appetite, which causes many to skip meals on a regular basis. This is not advised because skipping meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop (especially bad for diabetics), then spike again when you eat next. If you’re experiencing loss of appetite, the best course of action is to continue eating regularly but decrease portion sizes.
3. Malnutrition is a “3rd world problem”
Malnutrition occurs when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, causing a variety of health concerns. Seeing as the United States has the world’s largest economy and more resources at its disposal than any other nation, malnutrition should be nonexistent. Yet, according to a recent study, 60% of adults age 65+ who visited an emergency room were either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition.
Many seniors are living on fixed incomes, and paying for healthy food isn’t always easy. Unfortunately, in the US some of the cheapest foods are the least healthy. This causes many people, seniors included, to be overweight AND malnourished.
4. If you want truly healthy food, you have to cook it yourself
If you’re tired of cooking, there are lots of affordable meal services available to seniors in almost every community.
For more information, read our guide on “How To Find The Best Senior Meal Delivery Service”.
5. Supplements can substitute for real food
Taking supplements (including meal-substitute drinks like Ensure) isn’t unhealthy if taken in the proper amounts, but should never be a substitute for real whole foods. People who rely solely on supplements to compensate for a poor diet often suffer from digestive issues and even malnutrition in some cases.
Plus, supplements aren’t nearly as enjoyable as a home cooked meal!
6. Excess weight isn’t an issue for older adults
There are numerous health issues related to being overweight, including increased risk for type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even heart disease. When you consume more calories than needed, you store the surplus as body fat.
7. It’s too late to start living a healthy lifestyle
In short, it’s never too late to start living healthy. Improving your diet and incorporating exercise into your life can make you happier and help you feel rejuvenated. Joining a local gym, or using a healthy meal service can make these lifestyle changes simpler and more enjoyable.
For those with special dietary concerns or seniors wanting top-notch meals, a personal chef can help!