8 Nutrition Tips for Seniors

Nurse Next Door

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As we get older, it can be a challenge to eat well, drink enough water, and help our bodies stay well-oiled and able. While age often ‘tests’ us with health issues that are out of our control, there are things we can do to increase our likelihood of staying healthy, happy, and comfortable for longer.

We asked Registered Dietitian Ivana Krnjaja for her best nutrition tips for seniors. Her advice could help us all better take care of our bodies:

Love your fiber

Things slow down as we get older–colon included–and getting fiber each day is easier when you have whole foods on hand like a banana or apple (4g), cup of raspberries (8g) or a bowl of oatmeal (5g).

meal preparation of seniors
Water is the fountain of youth

How much water should you really be drinking? 8 cups (2L) a day is enough. Drink one glass of water after waking up. After a few weeks, progress to two glasses in the morning. Keep working your way up slowly.

Beans and lentils are great for you

Lentils in particular are high in protein and fiber, and are a good source of iron and folate–both of which are needed for the formation of healthy blood cells.

These little pulses are also easy on the budget. A half cup of dry lentils (providing 27g protein and 16g of fiber) generally cost around $1.50 at the grocery store.

Muscles don’t know age unless you starve them of protein

Some days, making anything more than a piece of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast can seem like a chore. Unfortunately, this isn’t ideal for our muscles. Research shows having protein at each meal preserves our lean body mass, more so than having one meal high in protein each day (like a steak dinner). Include these foods: pulses, nuts, seeds, meats, and seafood.

Here are three ways to get enough protein at every meal:

  • Hard boil five eggs for the week and keep these in the fridge for easy snacking or for adding to meals.
  • Purchase fresh (not frozen) meats like chicken or beef in bulk. Fully cook these by roasting, baking or slow cooking. Then, freeze each individual portion. You will always have cooked meats on hand–just remember to take it out of the freezer the night before.
  • Stock up on canned beans, lentils, and fish like sardines, salmon, and tuna. Look for ‘water packed’ on the label and sodium that’s less than 15% of your daily value on the nutrition label.

Eat a rainbow

It can be a fun challenge to give yourself nutrition goals. Mini cucumbers, carrots, apples, and bananas are available year-round and are very economical. Frozen foods like peas, squash, and green beans are also affordable and are picked at the peak of the season, so they maintain the same nutrition as if you were to buy them fresh.

Dairy is perfect for extra flavor

Adding a splash of milk to a butternut squash soup is delicious and creamy. You can also top fruit with a few dollops of plain yogurt and even a drizzle of honey.

Go nuts for snacks

If nuts and seeds are hard to chew, soak some in water overnight to soften the texture. In the morning, drain and enjoy. Nuts make for a perfect portable and nutritious snack. One serving is about 15 almonds, peanuts, or cashews. You can’t go wrong with this good source of fiber and omega-3 brain-boosting fats.

Shop (and eat) with a friend

Most of us like to socialize, and grocery shopping creates a great opportunity to see a friend, share recipes and perhaps try new things.

For more senior resources, check out Nurse Next Door’s Caring Blog!

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