Senior Nutrition FAQs
Q: Why do seniors need to change the way they eat as they age?
A: As the body ages, changes in the way that food is digested, and changes in the amount of energy needed, dictate a shift in eating habits. As activity levels decrease, muscle mass can diminish, reducing their energy requirements. That means that seniors who eat at the same level as their younger selves risk becoming obese.
Some seniors are at risk of not getting enough nutrients because of age-related changes to their appetites and their digestive systems. It’s important for every senior (or senior care giver) to ensure that eating a balanced and portion controlled diet becomes a daily routine.
Q: Do I need to worry about my medications and the food I eat?
A: Medications can affect food intake in many ways:
Always speak with your physician and pharmacist when making any changes to your eating habits to find out how the medications you are taking may affect your diet.
- Some medications can interfere with appetite or cause
- Some medications need to be taken with certain foods or fluids
- Some medications can make it more difficult to absorb
or use certain nutrients
- Some medications should not be consumed with certain foods
Q: What does “general healthy eating” mean?
A: The saying “you are what you eat” is literally true. Every cell in your body is created, renewed or activated by nutrient compounds that come from the foods you consume.
Healthy eating involves eating the right proportion of foods to provide all the essential nutrients needed to:
Q: What are “complex carbohydrates”?
- Provide energy for daily activities
- Ensure that your entire body functions properly
- Prevent illness and maintain longevity
A: Complex carbohydrates are typically unrefined plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. A good way to evaluate the suitability of carbohydrate choices is to look at the amount of fiber noted on the nutrient facts label. Simple carbohydrates in foods such as refined breads and pastas, pastries, candies and soda have very little fiber per serving.
Here is a sample of complex carbohydrate foods on the DineWise Menu:
Q: What foods are good sources of lean protein?
- White and Wild Rice
- Green Beans Almondine
- Roasted Red Potatoes
- Broccoli Florets
- Asparagus Spears
- Corn and Asparagus Medley
A: Fish, seafood, chicken breast, lean red meats and legumes are all examples of lean protein. Here are some options available in the DineWise Healthy Lifestyle Meal Plans that allow you to incorporate lean protein easily into your diet:
Q: What are unhealthy fats?
- Catfish Fillets
- Chicken Breasts
- Pork Loin
- Turkey Breast
A: When dietitians categorize fats as healthy or unhealthy, they look at how they perform in the body. Saturated and trans fats are more likely to be turned into artery clogging cholesterol than unsaturated fats. Food sources of healthier fats include many vegetable oils, whole grains, avocados, nuts, seeds and fish. Food sources of unhealthier fats include full-fat dairy products, red meats and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats such as hard margarine.
Fat is still essential in any diet as a source of energy, essential fatty acids, vitamins and a general enjoyment of foods. Food sources that provide healthier fats include many vegetable oils, whole grains, avocados, nuts, seeds and fish.