By Erin McAllister, RD, LDN
You’ve been hearing your whole life how important eating well is. We all know the drill – we should really try to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on foods high in fats and sugars. As a Senior, developing better eating habits matters more than ever. Even if you’re starting late in life, it’s still worth making the commitment and doing the work to eat healthier.
Cook your own meals.
Processed foods and the meals you get at restaurants are often high in unnecessary salt and sugar, but it’s easy enough not to think about or realize what you’re eating when someone else is doing the cooking. The best way to regulate your intake of different ingredients is to cook your own meals.
Making your own meals takes time, but it gives you much more power over what you eat. If you’ve spent most of your life avoiding cooking, it’s not too hard to start. Nobody today has to learn to cook from scratch. You can find loads of free recipes online, and search engines make it especially easy to identify those that meet your dietary needs.
Try Fruits and Vegetables You Haven’t Had Before.
Our taste buds change over time. It’s entirely possible for a person to spend most of their life thinking they hate Brussels sprouts based on bad memories as a child, only to find they actually love them when they try them again for the first time many years later. The first step to eating more fruits and vegetables is identifying which ones you like to eat.
Get a little adventurous and seek out recipes that involve fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before, haven’t had in a long time, or haven’t eaten in those particular combinations. The more you experiment, the more you’ll figure out which healthy ingredients you’ll get the most excited to eat.
Cut down on sugary drinks – or better yet, quit entirely.
On average, people in the U.S. drink 44 gallons of soda a year. That’s a lot of sugar and empty calories. Worse, high soda consumption, even diet soda, has been linked to type two diabetes, a higher risk of heart disease, and obesity.
If you’re one of the many people in the U.S. with a soda habit, set the goal of reducing how many sodas you drink. Keep other drinks you like around instead, like tea or carbonated water, so you have something to turn to when you want a drink other than water.
It may not be easy, but this one change can make a significant difference to your health.
Commit to drinking lots of water.
You’ve probably heard the advice to drink plenty of water as often as you’ve heard the advice to eat healthy. It’s a basic need, but one that can be surprisingly hard to keep up with.
Dehydration is a real concern for Seniors –the consequences for not refilling your glass at the tap often enough can be serious. This is a relatively easy problem to fix though. Make sure you keep a large glass or bottle of water nearby throughout the day.