As we get older, staying nourished and maintaining healthy eating habits can be challenging. But with the right advice and a little help along the way, healthy eating for seniors can be simple.
Nutrition needs vary with age and gender. Now you’re older, the foods and drinks that make up a healthy diet are likely to change slightly from when you were younger.
In general, you’ll need less of some foods and more of others, and older men have different nutritional needs from older women. You also need to be aware of your own specific nutrition requirements and adjust your food choices, so your body gets exactly what it needs for good health in older age.
Guidelines to promote healthy eating for seniors
The Australian Dietary Guidelines were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, dieticians and nutrition experts. They are science-based and outline the types and amounts of foods that promote a healthy diet, positive wellbeing and help to reduce chronic illness.
In summary, they advise Australians to:
- Eat a wide variety of foods from the five food groups: plenty of vegetables and legumes; lots of fruit; grain foods (preferably wholegrain and high fibre varieties); lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds; milk, yoghurt, cheese or their alternatives.
- Drink plenty of water – six to eight cups of fluid per day.
- Limit foods high in saturated fat, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.
- Replace high fat foods containing saturated fat with foods containing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Swap butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with unsaturated fats from oils, spreads, nut butters and pastes, and avocado.
- Limit foods and drinks containing added salt, and don’t add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.
- Limit foods and drinks containing added sugars, such as confectionery, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drink.
- Limit alcohol – no more than two standard drinks a day.
- Keep ‘sometimes foods’ to a minimum – the high sugar, high fat, high salt foods such as lollies, cakes and biscuits, fried foods, and fruit juices and cordials.
- Be physically active – aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking, every day.
Serving sizes and quantities are also important for a healthy diet. For people aged 70 and over should aim for a daily intake of:
- Five serves of vegetables: a standard serve is about 75 grams.
- Two serves of fruit: a standard serve is 150 grams.
- Four and a half serves for men and three serves for women of grain foods: a standard serve is 500 kilojoules.
- Two and a half serves for men and two serves for women of lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans: a standard serve is 500–600 kilojoules.
- Three and a half serves for men and four serves for women of milk, yoghurt and cheese or alternatives: a standard serve is 500–600 kilojoules.
If you are looking for further information about healthy food for seniors, visit www.eatforhealth.gov.au where you will find advice and tips on eating well, choosing nutritious foods and healthy recipes. There are also calculators to help estimate your daily energy needs, nutrient requirements, and the number of serves from the Five Food Groups
A helping hand for healthy eating
As you get older, you may find it difficult to get out to buy groceries or have difficulty preparing meals. NHCH is here to help on both fronts.
Home Care Package funding is available from the Australian Government for services including shopping and meal preparation. Whether a weekly or daily service, we will make sure you have a fridge full of great tasting, nutritious food for you to enjoy.
Talk to our team today to discover the best foods and eating habits for better health and wellbeing.