July 24, 2015

Over 65 – Building a Meal Plan for Health

I had to read this several times, but to my surprise, even though this is from the USDA, they are not pushing whole grains. They are doing more for a great food plan than pushing unhealthy whole grains.

It could be that they are truly concerned about the over 65 citizens. Making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do—no matter how old you are! Your body changes through your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Food provides nutrients you need as you age. Use these tips to choose foods for better health at each stage of life. This is written of all over 65; however, I will write for over 65 with type 2 diabetes.

#1 Drink plenty of liquids. Water is best for those of us with type 2 diabetes. If the water supply is not safe, buy bottled water. Avoid most juice and all sweetened beverages.

#2 Make eating a social event. Meals are more enjoyable when you eat with friends. Invite a friend to join you or take part in a potluck at least twice a week. A senior center or place of worship may offer meals that are shared with others.
There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing. Please use caution to avoid high carbohydrate foods.

#3 Plan healthy meals. Find trusted nutrition information from a source you trust. Be sure that what you eat is good for type 2 diabetes, be careful of how much you eat, and if necessary limit the quantity you eat. Find sensible, flexible ways to choose and prepare tasty meals so you can eat foods you need.

#4 Know how much to eat. Learn to recognize how much to eat so you can control portion size. MyPlate’s SuperTracker shows amounts of food you need, but does not have a guide for people with diabetes. When eating out, pack part of your meal to eat later. One restaurant dish might be enough for two meals or more.

#5 Vary your vegetables. Include a variety of different colored vegetables to brighten your plate. Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber. Not all vegetables are low carb. Watch carrots and corn as they are generally high in carbohydrates.

#6 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. Don’t miss out on needed nutrients! Eating softer foods can help. Try cooked or canned foods like unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or canned tuna. Also if you have a food grinder or even a blender, make use of it to make softer food that does not need to be chewed. Just hold the food in your mouth and gum the food to add saliva to help your stomach and intestines digest it easier.

#7 Use herbs and spices. Foods may seem to lose their flavor as you age. If favorite dishes taste different, it may not be the cook! Maybe your sense of smell, sense of taste, or both have changed. Medicines may also change how foods taste. Add flavor to your meals with herbs and spices.

#8 Keep food safe. Don’t take a chance with your health. A food-related illness can be life threatening for an older person. Throw out food that might not be safe. Avoid certain foods that are always risky for an older person, such as unpasteurized dairy foods. Other foods can be harmful to you when they are raw or undercooked, such as eggs, sprouts, fish, shellfish, meat, or poultry. This is an important point.

#9 Read the Nutrition Facts label. Make the right choices when buying food. Pay attention to important nutrients to know as well as calories, fats, sodium, and the rest of the Nutrition Facts label. Ask your doctor if there are ingredients and nutrients you might need to limit or to increase. For those of us with diabetes, carbohydrates need to be limited while fats (except trans fats) need to be increased/

#10 Ask your doctor about vitamins or supplements. Food is generally the best way to get nutrients you need. Should you take vitamins or other pills or powders with herbs and minerals? These are called dietary supplements. Your doctor may know if you need them. More is not always better. Some can create conflicts with your medicines or affect your medical conditions.

Eating healthy and being active is important at any age. That’s why MyPlate and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, are delighted to offer a new resource on healthy eating designed specifically for people ages 65 and older. Follow the links on the site.

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