Posted by: Patricia Hysong | January 10, 2012

Healthy Eating After 50 Part 1

Making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do at any age but as we get older and our situations change, making healthy choices may become more difficult. Circumstances in our lives can change how we feel and think about what is important and may deter us from doing what we need to do to keep ourselves in tip top shape. For example, changes in taste buds and\or loss of appetite caused by certain medications, the inability to get out shopping, loss of a loved one, and even ill-fitting dentures and teeth problems can significantly change the way we think about food and what we eat.

As we age, our body needs change and we process food differently than we did when we were younger. To help ensure our bodies and minds stand the test of time, healthy food choices are a must. A few tips for getting started in the right direction are:

  • Be colorful and daring in your food choices. Choose different colors and types of fruits and vegetables.
  • Make the whole grain choice. At least half of the grains you consume should be whole grains.
  • Limit foods containing solid fats, oils and that are high in sugars. Eat smaller amounts of saturated fats (mostly foods that come from animals), trans fats (margarines, shortening, cookies, crackers) and foods containing sugar.

General daily recommendations for serving sizes for individuals over 50 are:

  • Fruits-1½ to 2½ cups
  • Vegatables-2 to 3½ cups
  • Grains-5 to 10 ounces
  • Protiens-5 to 7 ounces
  • Milk-3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk

Does what is on your plate match the recommended amount?

  • 3 ounces of meat, poultry or fish is roughly the size of a deck of cards
  • ½ cup of fruit, rice, pasta or ice cream is roughly the size of half a baseball
  • 1 cup of salad greens is roughly the size of a baseball
  • 1½ ounces of cheese is roughly the size of 4 stacked dice
  • 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine is about the size of 1 dice
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about the size of a ping pong ball
  • 1 cup of flaked cereal or a baked potato is about the size of the average fist      

How much you should eat depends on your daily activity level. The more active you are the higher calorie intake your body can take without adding unwanted weight. The appropriate amount of calories produce the energy you get from food to do the things you need to do each day. Eating more calories than your body uses means those extra calories become body fat. Healthy choices involve more than just counting calories. Knowing what nutrients are in the foods you eat is as important as knowing the number of calories. Eat foods that are nutrient rich not full of empty calories.

Women over 50 that are:

  • not physically active need about 1600 calories per day
  • somewhat active need about 1800 calories per day
  • active daily need about 2000-2200 calories per day

Men over 50 that are

  • not physically active need about 2000 calories per day
  • somewhat active need about 2200-2400 calories per day
  • active daily need about 2400-2800 calories per day

In the USDA Food Guide, eating the smallest amount suggested for each food group gives you about 1,600 calories. The largest amount has 2,800 calories.

Check back on Thursday for more information in Part 2 of our Healthy Eating After 50 series.

Before making any changes that could affect your health, always consult a medical professional.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from National Institute on Aging and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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