National Nutrition Month® was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a way to create awareness and education surrounding the importance of making healthy food choices, developing better eating habits and regular physical activity. It originally began in 1973 as a week-long event, but by 1980 the popularity of the topic of nutrition had grown so much that it became a month-long campaign.
The Academy’s mission is to help promote optimal nutrition and well-being for people of all ages. There are more than 70,000 food and nutrition professionals, like registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, involved in the Academy.
Healthy Eating Habits for Seniors
National Nutrition Month® marks a way for you to take a look at your own eating habits and try to implement changes if necessary. Maybe you have a sweet tooth and can never resist dessert, or find yourself reaching for a salty snack before bedtime. Here are a few ways to develop healthy eating habits, no matter your age!
- Plan meals in advance. If you’re living in an assisted living community, you’re lucky enough to have healthy meals planned for you each week. However, if you’re still living independently, it’s recommended to devise a meal plan for the week and shop accordingly. You’ll be able to take inventory of what you need to purchase, and you won’t find yourself scrambling for ideas. Or worse, running to the drive-through for a quick fix.
- Eat a big breakfast and a lighter dinner. This tends to be a difficult rule for most people to follow. Most of us skip breakfast, eat a light lunch and then a large, calorie-laden dinner, when in fact you should do the exact opposite! It’s better to eat a large, healthy breakfast and lunch so you’re fueled up for the day, and a smaller dinner so you don’t go to sleep right after consuming the majority of your calories.
- Prepare healthy snacks. It’s easy to grab that bag of chips or package of cookies because they’re already ready to be eaten, right? So, apply this same mentality to healthy snacks. Purchase some small plastic containers and fill them up with already chopped veggies, trail mix, dried fruit, or some whole-grain crackers. When your stomach starts growling, you’ll have a healthy option ready to go.
- Sneak in those veggies. As well as keeping veggies on hand for snacking, it’s also fairly easy to add them to dinners. Again, by keeping them cleaned and chopped in advance, you’ll find yourself making more salads and incorporating vegetables into your side dishes, replacing some of those high-carb, starchy options.
- Treat yourself! While you obviously should avoid overindulging, allowing yourself a treat every once in a while will help keep you on the right track. Save around 200 calories for the treats you crave, just try to keep it at least a little healthier, like dark chocolate for your sweet tooth and pretzels for your salt cravings.
Seniors should also maintain a healthy weight with regular exercise like walking, yoga or swimming. Getting your heart rate up for around 30 minutes every day is vital to burn calories and improve your strength and mobility.
For more information about American Senior Communities New Energy Wellness program, please visit www.ascseniorcare.com/new.