In March, people across the country focus on healthy eating in celebration of National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, centers on creating nutritious meals based on individual needs and preferences – because no two people are the same.
At ComForCare, we know that no two seniors are the same! We all age differently, and that often means different nutritional goals and needs.
Keep reading to learn more about the history of National Nutrition Month and how you can continue to eat healthfully as you age.
National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It began in 1973 as National Nutrition Week and became a month-long observance in 1980. Each year centers around a different topic focused on nutrition education and information.
This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals’ cultural and personal food preferences.
According to Su-Nui Escobar, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Miami, Florida, “America is a cultural melting pot, so you can’t expect everyone’s food choices to look the same. Eating is meant to be a joyful experience. As supermarkets increasingly diversify their shelves to meet the needs of their customers, it’s becoming easier to create nutritious meals that align with a variety of cultural preferences.”
Unique Challenges for Older Adults
Developing a healthful eating pattern is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The key is tailoring your favorite foods to meet your individual nutrient needs – including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals. Meeting these nutrition goals is essential at any age, but especially as we grow older.
As our bodies age, they change. For example, you may have noticed that the nightly bowl of ice cream you used to enjoy now gives you indigestion or that having a glass of wine before bed now keeps you up all night. Some of these changes are easy to deal with, but others make it harder for seniors to eat healthy.
Here are just a few of the issues that can make it difficult for an older adult to maintain a balanced diet:
- Changes to home life, such as suddenly living alone
- Health issues which can make it harder to chew and swallow food
- New medications which can change how food tastes, make your mouth dry or take away your appetite
- Decreased income and less money for groceries
- Altered sense of smell and taste
Healthy Eating as You Age
These tips from MedlinePlus can help maintain a healthy diet, despite challenges:
- Eat nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins
- Avoid empty calories, like soda or alcohol, candy, and baked goods
- Choose foods that are low in cholesterol and fat
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear fluids, eating soups, or snacking on fruits such as watermelon
- Keep physically active to help stimulate your appetite
Tips for a Custom Eating Plan
Our partner in caregiving, Stein Hospice, is offering a wonderfully informative Zoom seminar on Thursday, March 25th, entitled “Personalize Your Plate: Nutritional Considerations for Older Adults Living with Chronic Illnesses.” The presentation will offer expert tips to customize a healthy eating plan for yourself or your loved one by creating a balanced diet, increasing fluid and protein intake, and incorporating immune-boosting foods into your life. A Q&A will follow.
Register here, or for more information, call 732.649.3502, ext. 104