Eggs are the enemy, eating fat will make you fat, constant cardio is the only way to exercise for weight loss … Let’s face it, over our lifetime we hear so much conflicting advice when it comes to our health, only to find out that years later it’s no longer true. This can make figuring out what we should and shouldn’t eat as we get older incredibly confusing.
When it comes to what we eat as we age, we can also tend to stick to what we know. We are undeniably creatures of habit and often we still eat the same things (and same portions) we used to eat, even though we are doing much less physical activity than we once were. So I sat down with my amazing 28 nutrition team to help take the confusion out of what to eat when you’re over 60 and show you exactly what a healthy diet should look like as you age.
My food philosophy is all about keeping it real – and this means sticking to food that is in its whole form and staying away from the processed and refined stuff when you can. This also means limiting takeaway and fast food, and anything you find in a box or packet on the supermarket shelf. Think of every meal as an opportunity to pack more nutrients into your day. And remember to take caution with your portions … if you are doing very limited to no exercise, then the amount you are eating needs to reflect this.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet as it keeps you full and satisfied. It also helps maintain muscle mass, which is incredibly important as we age, and aids general bodily functions, so pump up that protein and make sure it features in your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fish, meat, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds are just a few ways you can ensure it is the star of every meal.
We all know that calcium is a must for strong, healthy bones and for so many of us this meant having a tall glass of milk every day when we were young. But as we age, our calcium needs increase so it’s important to up our intake accordingly. This can be easily achieved by consuming full-fat dairy products, sardines, leafy green vegetables, tahini and sesame seeds, soy products, almonds and parsley.
Don’t forget to get your daily dose of Vitamin D – this is another essential component for bone health and general immunity. While the most natural way to get it is from the sunshine and eating vitamin D-rich foods, you can supplement it too. If you’re not sure if sunshine and diet is doing the trick, seek guidance and recommendations from your health care professional if you are considering supplements.
As we get older, Omega 3’s are another important component of a healthy, balanced diet. You need them for their energy density, anti-inflammatory properties and benefits to your heart and brain health. Include them in your routine by eating plenty of fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies) as well as linseeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Again, you can consider supplementing with a good-quality fish oil or flaxseed oil.
Fibre is something we seem to hear about constantly – and this is because it’s crucial to health at all ages. Make sure you are getting plenty of it each day as this will help support overall digestive health and keep constipation at bay. Veggies, whole grains and legumes are the best sources of fibre, and also try to have at least two pieces of fruit a day to meet your daily fibre requirements.
Last but definitely not least, do not forget to stay hydrated! Drinking water is something that can easily be forgotten, but it’s so essential for our overall health and waste removal. Stay hydrated by ensuring you get enough H20 each day (I recommend a minimum of 2 litres or 8 glasses every day). Sparkling water and herbal teas that are caffeine free are awesome ways to stay hydrated if you struggle with the taste of plain water and be mindful of your overall caffeine intake of coffee and green/black tea. I recently got a new drink bottle and keep it with me constantly as a reminder to hydrated – trust me, it really works!
I hope this hasn’t overwhelmed you – but instead given you some clarity around the nutrients needed to keep you in tip top shape as you age. But don’t feel like you need to drop everything and include all of these at once, instead slowly but surely bring them into your routine.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.