In the introductory post of this “Age Friendly” series, we listed the range of topics we will be discussing, starting with how we fill our plates.
Before we get started, a note on the information used in this series. To assure you received the most accurate information, we turned to the nutrition recommendations for older adults in the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020 – 2025,” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The source for much of the data and recommendations in that document comes from research, including studies conducted and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
So, how do you fill your plate? Have you really looked at how you fill your plate at lunch or dinner? Is it brimming with more unhealthy choices or more healthy choices? You may discover that you will need to make some changes in the foods and beverages you select. Remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food. It means you can start to make better choices as you go along. A healthy meal pattern should encourage you to include healthier foods, but it also needs to fit your budget.
The Dietary Guidelines have suggested four major recommendations for healthy eating.
- Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. This should begin at infancy and take you through older adults. And if you are the older adult, it’s never too late to make healthier choices in your life.
- Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations. The Dietary Guidelines recommendations take into account our individuality.
- Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits. What are nutrient-dense foods? Foods that pack a lot of vitamins and minerals with no or little added sugars, saturated fats, or sodium.
- Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages. According to the Dietary Guidelines, a healthy dietary pattern doesn’t have much room for added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, or alcoholic beverages. So, limit foods high in these components.
Where can you go to find out how your plate should look? A great place to start is with the MyPlate Plan, which targets what foods you should choose and how much food you should place on your plate. Find a personalized food for your lifestyle, based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level, by visiting www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan.
In our next post, we will take a look at each of the food groups and the recommended amounts.