Eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy as you age. Eating well helps you maintain a healthy weight and have the energy and nutrients your body needs to stay active and engaged. Healthy eating also can reduce the risk of certain chronic conditions or lessen their symptoms. Further, eating nutritious foods protects bones, joints and muscles with can reduce the risk of falls and related injury.
What it means to eat well does change a little as you age. For example, your body may need more of certain nutrients than you did when you younger. Your metabolism may also slow down, so you need fewer calories than before. A diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats and proteins in the right portions will give you the best nutritional value.
Five keys to healthy eating, from the National Council on Aging:
- Know what a healthy plate looks like - The USDA's MyPlate guide shows you which types of foods to eat and in what amounts.
- Look for important nutrients - To get all the nutrients you need, you should eat a variety of foods. Generally, choose natural (unprocessed) foods with bright colors.
- Read the Nutrition Facts label - When you do eat packaged foods, read the labels to find items that are lower in fat, added sugars, and sodium.
- Use recommended servings - To maintain your weight, you must eat the right amount of food for your age and body.
- Stay hydrated - Drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. Tea, coffee, and water are your best choices.