Home Healthy Aging Recommended Healthy Eating Habits for Seniors from the USDA

Recommended Healthy Eating Habits for Seniors from the USDA

by EG

You can exercise all you want, but in order to feel your best, you must also monitor what goes in your mouth; but the older we get, the more our appetite and dietary needs change. For example:

  • Food doesn’t taste like it used to
  • You may experience a loss of appetite
  • There may be trouble with chewing

There are reasons for this. With aging we gradually lose our sense of smell and taste. Medications may also change our ability to taste, and may certainly affect our appetite. Extra spices may help, but you should also speak with your physician about other medication options if they’re causing a loss of appetite. If you’re having trouble chewing, your dentures may need to be checked for a proper fit.

Your sense of thirst may also be compromised as you grow older. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your body tells you too late. This advice applies to people of all age. Don’t stop drinking if you’re having urinary incontinence; address the incontinence in other ways. Your body NEEDS water! Water also helps move fiber through your body, something else you’ll likely need more of the older you get.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) daily dietary recommendations for people over the age of 50 are as follows:

  • Fruits: eat ‘em, 1.5 – 2.5 cups; ½ cup of fruit is about the same as a medium sized whole fruit or ¼ cup of dried fruit
  • Veggies: yummy, 2 – 3.5 cups; two cups of uncooked leafy vegetables is about the same as one cup of cut up veggies
  • Grains: tasty, 5 – 10 ounces; one ounce is the equivalent to one roll, muffin or piece of bread
  • Meat or Beans: cook ‘em, 5 – 7 ounces; alternatively, one egg, ¼ cup of beans or tofu, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds is about the same as an ounce of meat
  • Milk: drink it, 3 cups of skim or low-fat; your other option is 1.5 – 2 ounces of cheese or yogurt will yield the same as one cup of milk

The USDA suggests that you avoid empty calories, meaning food and drinks with many calories, but little nutritional value. Think soda, chips, and “junk food” in general. This should come as no surprise.

Naturally the more active you are, the more you’ll want to eat; but if you eat more calories than your bodies needs you’ll gain unwanted weight. Eating a variety of foods is essential. Otherwise you’re not getting a variety of nutrients.

So how many calories should someone over the age of 50 eat every day? A woman who is not active needs about 1,600 calories, somewhat active = 1,800, and very active = 2,000 – 2,200. A man who is not active needs about 2,000, somewhat active = 2,200 – 2,400, and very active = 2,400 – 2,800.

Eat correct portions, select wise food choices, and exercise to whatever extent you’re able. This advice goes a long way toward improving quality of life for people of all ages.

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