“Food just doesn’t taste the same anymore.” “I can’t get out to go shopping.” “I’m just not that hungry.” Sound familiar? These are a few common reasons some older people don’t eat healthy meals. But, choosing healthy foods is a smart thing to do—no matter how old you are! Here’s why. Your healthy food choices can make an important difference in your health and in how you look and feel.
To provide you with important information about nutrition and healthy aging, the Agassiz Community Health Centre will be hosting a third round-table session for seniors on Tuesday, March 24 from 5- 6 p.m at the Fitness/Activity Centre at 6660 Pioneer Avenue. In attendance will be Dr. I. Fadyeyeva, R. Stam (RN), and Susan Hutcheon, (RD).
Eating a well-planned balanced mix of foods may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating may also reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.
Eating well helps keep up your energy level, too. By consuming enough calories, you give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day. The number of calories needed depends on how old you are, whether you’re a man or a woman, your height and weight and how active you are.
So, how many calories do you actually need to stay healthy? On the one hand, if you consume too many calories for your activity level, the result is extra weight – a concern because it can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease and can increase joint problems. On the other hand, losing weight quickly – without trying – can also be a health concern. It can result in conditions such as muscle wasting and immune system compromise, which places the person at greater risk for developing infections.
To eat well, it’s best to choose a mix of nutrient-dense foods every day. Nutrient-dense foods are foods that have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories. Look for foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. They are found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat free dairy products, seafood, lean meats, beans, eggs, and unsalted nuts. Limit the amount of solid (saturated) fats) you consume and keep intake of trans fats as low as possible. And, keep the salt shaker and sugar bowl out of reach.
Your food choices also affect digestion. For instance, not getting enough fibre or fluids may cause constipation. Eating more whole-grain foods, legumes, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help with constipation.
Eating well isn’t just a “diet” or “program” that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It is part of a healthy lifestyle that you can adopt now and stay with in the years to come. On March 24, your community health professionals are looking forward to answering your questions about food choices, food labels, food safety, meal planning, food shopping and ways to enhance the enjoyment of eating. Please register your intention to attend by calling the Agassiz Community Health Centre at 604-703-2030.
Submitted by Agassiz Community Health Centre