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Tips for Senior Nutrition & Eating Healthy in Later Life

Discover tips for senior nutrition with Seniorly. Eating healthy later in life is just as important as it was earlier: you are still what you eat after all.

By Emma Rodbro · Updated Aug 08, 2022

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important at any age. However, it’s even more necessary for seniors and older adults to make sure their food choices are smart and include healthy food.

There are many factors that play into a well-balanced diet for seniors and our nutritional needs changes as we age. Understanding the benefits of proper nutrition for seniors and what kind of foods to eat can help determine your nutritional program.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, five of the eight most common causes of death of adults aged 65 years and older are influenced by nutrition. Nutrition can impact the risk of chronic disease, the speed of disease progression, as well as the intensity of disease symptoms.

How do nutritional needs change for seniors?

Our nutritional needs change as we age for a variety of reasons.  We may need to adjust our diet because of particular medical conditions.  Prescription and over-the-counter medications can change our metabolism and the way we digest and absorb food.  

The loss of a spouse or other family member, a lack of interest in cooking or eating alone, difficulties preparing or shopping for food, and financial concerns may change our eating habits. Changes in our ability to taste food and difficulties in chewing or swallowing can also make food less appealing as we age.

There are also specific vitamins and minerals that become more important as we age, including Vitamin A and B12.

Tips for Senior Nutrition & Eating Healthy in Later Life

Benefits of healthy eating for seniors

There are many benefits of eating healthy for seniors, including:

  • Decreased risk in heart disease
  • Improvement in quality of life
  • Increased longevity
  • Increased energy
  • Maintenance of a healthy weight

Ensuring your diet is full of the right fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and necessary nutrients can provide a balanced diet for the elderly. If you need help planning your diet and finding recipes, a registered dietitian (ideally with a specialty in senior nutrition) is a good place to start.

Improve your quality of life

While nutrition is important to survival, food does more than give us fuel. The familiar phrase “you are what you eat” reflects the social and cultural power of foods. What we eat is tied to how others see us and how we see ourselves as we age.

Meals can provide structure and meaning to the day and enhance feelings of independence, control and mastery over our environment. Restaurants serve food, but they also satisfy social and emotional needs through the menu, atmosphere, service and pricing.

Food is associated with cultural identity, particularly foods that have been passed down through the generations. Comfort foods vary depending on cultural influences, but in general they are considered soothing because of their familiarity and connection to people, places and memories in our lives.

Merging the nutritional needs and challenges of later life with the social and emotional aspects of food can be difficult, but there are many resources online available to help.  

Tips for Senior Nutrition & Eating Healthy in Later Life

Popular recipes for seniors

Take a look at some popular and delicious recipe ideas specifically tailored for senior nutritional needs:

  • Pinterest has a plethora of Senior Friendly Recipes you might want to try out with your family. The Blueberry Bliss Bars look amazing, and are filled with antioxidants that can help seniors keep free radicals in check and prevent them from damaging other cells.
  • Seniorly’s Pinterest page also has a “Food for Thought” board full of recipes that are great for older people, including healthy salads and entrees.

These recipes and eating guidelines are taken from around the web as well as from our own personal tastes.

Guidelines for healthy eating after 50

According to USDA dietary guidelines, balancing calories to manage weight, reducing certain foods and building healthy eating patterns can have a huge impact on how we feel as we age.  

For those who are looking to manage weight as they age, this National Council on Aging provides some healthy diet tips for older adults.

There are also a variety of resources from the National Institute on Aging:

  1. This guide explains the benefits of choosing healthy meals as you get older.​
  2. This guide offers healthy eating tips for caregivers feeding someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. This AgePage resource offers a guide to healthy eating after 50. It provides plans for making smarter food choices, as well as a section for answers to frequently asked questions.
  4. The NIA publication “What’s on your plate?” also provides suggestions on smart food choices for healthy aging. It gives readers information on food safety and shopping tips for people of all ages.
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written by:
Emma Rodbro

Emma Rodbro

Head of Growth Operations at Seniorly, MA in Social Work with focus on aging from UC Berkeley.
View other articles written by Emma

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