Eating habits change as we enter different stages in life. As you age, healthy eating can make a significant difference in your health, how you feel, and your sense of overall well-being. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as you age, you may be at a greater risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as health conditions related to changes in bone and muscle mass. This makes it especially important to follow healthy dietary patterns and practices to support healthy aging.
Maintaining a healthy diet can keep you healthy and active for longer. The simple changes below can help you safely meet nutrient needs, help maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce your risk of chronic disease and health conditions.
- Drink plenty of liquids. With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink water often and limit beverages with added sugars or salt.
- Plan healthy meals. Incorporate a variety of foods from each food group. Focus on vegetables, fruits, and the nutrients you need, including potassium, calcium, vitamin D, dietary fiber, and vitamin B12. Also choose foods with little to no added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium.
- Eat for your teeth and gums. Many people find that their teeth and gums change as they age. People with dental problems sometimes find it hard to chew fruits, vegetables, or meats. Eating softer foods can help – try cooked or canned foods like unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or canned tuna.
- Use herbs and spices. Foods may seem to lose their flavor as you age. If your favorite dishes taste different, your sense of smell, sense of taste, or both may be changing. Medicines may also change how foods taste. Try adding flavor to your meals with herbs and spices instead of salt and butter.
- Keep food safe. Avoid foods can be harmful when they are raw or undercooked, such as eggs, sprouts, fish, shellfish, meat, or poultry. Throw out food that might not be safe.
- Read the nutrition facts label. Make the right choices when you buy your food by paying attention to important nutrients such as calories, fats, and sodium. Ask your doctor if there are ingredients and nutrients you might need to limit or to increase.
- Ask your doctor about dietary supplements. Food is the best way to get nutrients you need. If you are interested in dietary supplements like powders, vitamins, and protein drinks, ask your doctor before consuming them. Some may interfere with your medicines or affect your medical conditions.
For more information about healthy eating for older adults, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition for Older Adults page.