Eating a variety of healthy foods from all food groups can help you get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs as you age. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy eating plan for adults 50+ emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. It includes meat, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
But healthy eating doesn’t exclusively involve choosing the right kinds of foods; it also requires you to eat the right amount of each kind of food. Knowing the appropriate amounts of food to consume can help you maintain a balanced diet and prevent over or under eating.
In 2011, nutrition scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University released MyPlate for Older Adults, a nutritional tool created specifically for older adults in correspondence with MyPlate, the federal government’s food group symbol.
MyPlate for Older Adults shows you the exact portions and examples of foods you should have on your plate. These include:
- Brightly colored vegetables
- Deeply colored fruit
- Whole, enriched, and fortified grains and cereals
- Low- and non-fat dairy products
- Dried beans, nuts, fish, poultry, lean meats, and eggs
- Liquid vegetable oils, soft spreads low in saturated fat, and spices to replace salt. (Try to avoid trans fats!)
- Fluids, especially water
MyPlate for Older Adults also promotes physical activity through formalized exercise routines as well as daily errands and household chores, reminding older adults that there are a variety of options for regular physical activity.
What About Snacking?
According to research conducted by Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, Americans now get 25 percent of their daily calories from snacks. Since the 1970s, Dr. Mattes research shows that the average American’s snack consumption has increased to about 580 calories per day, the equivalent of a full meal!
Snacks can play a beneficial role in a healthy diet. According to Everyday Health, eating small, healthy snacks between meals can help stabilize blood sugar, curb your appetite between meals, and provide a needed boost of energy in the late afternoon.
The trick to healthy snacking is to limit daily snack intake to 100 to 200 calories. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with wholesome snack options like baby carrots, hummus, pita chips, yogurt, string cheese, fresh fruit, and veggies.
For more tips on healthy eating for adults 50+, download our free guide today!