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Eating your Way to Better Health for National Nutrition Month

Date: 03/20/19

Eating well is important for everyone, but especially for seniors. Without a proper diet, seniors can become malnourished. Malnutrition is a serious condition that occurs when what someone eats doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients. While eating right sounds easy enough, you’d be surprised. Did you know that one out of every two older adults are at risk of becoming malnourished?

There’s a number of reasons seniors might have poor diets. As we get older, our senses change. As a result, foods might taste or smell different. Many people report foods getting more bitter or sour. As bodies age and slow down, less food is needed to fuel it. In addition, an older person may have dentures or more sensitive teeth. This makes it difficult to eat hard or sticky foods.

There are other non-physical reasons that may cause malnutrition to set in. Financial troubles or poor mental health, possibly due to the loss of a loved one or family member, affect eating habits. Even fear for their own safety, which could keep them from going grocery shopping, might affect their health.

For all those reasons and more, that’s why we’re recognizing National Nutrition Month. To celebrate, we’re shining a light on the dietary needs of seniors. Eating right can be easier said than done, especially when fresh food isn’t always available. Don’t worry, all you need is a little bit of prep and planning to eat well.

Eating well can be just as delicious as it is nutritious. To get started, we recommend checking out food plans outlined by the USDA (PDF) to help guide your grocery store list. Following their guidelines, here’s what to pick up the next time you’re at the store, and why:

  • Stock up on mineral- and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. These will reinforce your immune system. A strong immune system fights off the risk of infection or illness.
  • Grab grains like whole grain breads, bran flake cereal and rice and pasta. These foods are great for digestive health and cut cholesterol levels as part of a balanced diet.
  • Be sure to get your protein in – it helps maintain muscle mass! Protein can be found in meat, eggs, beans and even peanut butter.
  • Don’t forget to get your daily dose of dairy. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt to make sure every bite counts. Dairy keeps your bones strong, so drink up.
  • A little bit of oil goes a long way. Cook with healthy oils or get your fix through nuts, olives or avocado. A proper amount of oils can bring relief for those with diseases like asthma and arthritis.
  • When shopping, try to keep foods with solid fats and added sugars to a minimum. These foods tend to be loaded with calories, which can reverse the benefits of the rest of your diet.

At PA Health & Wellness, we know there are many factors that impact health and ones that we can’t always control. When it comes to nutrition, we want everyone to live life to the fullest. Proper nutrition makes it possible! All it takes is an open mind and a few simple changes. We encourage you to ask your doctor on how you can improve your diet. If you have any questions on what to ask during your visit, our service coordinators are happy to help. Please call PA Health & Wellness at 1-844-626-6813 (TTY 1-844-349-8916) for more information.