Must-know diet tips and tricks for the baby boomer

Being healthy and keeping a healthy weight is a great goal at any age, however as you get older, it can get harder.

You may have noticed you’re not burning off the calories like you could when you were younger, and the weight doesn’t seem to come off easily. Your whole body may have changed shape while your diet stayed the same.

This is because our bodies need different things to what some TV diets or book recipes say. Older people have different health concerns that need to be considered such as our ability to become more dehydrated, or the frailty of our bones.

So, we’ve compiled together some of the best tips to ensure your healthy weight loss and exercise plan does work…

1. Keep those muscles strong

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As you age, you lose muscle mass. This doesn’t have to be a fact though – you can gain back that muscle by keeping up strength training. At the gym, they have weight machines as well as lighter weights you hold in your hands. Other activities such as yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics also use light strengthening techniques to activate your muscle groups.

2. Eat more protein

If you want to maintain your muscle strength, you’ll need to bolster it with a diet full of protein. Protein also keeps you full for longer, making it easier to lose weight in the long run. Salmon, eggs, beef and chicken are just some examples of protein sources.

3. Drink plenty of water

People in their 60s need much more water than their younger counterparts. Although you may not feel thirsty, you are, and could be at risk of dehydration. If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough water, check your urine: it should be pale yellow.

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4. Improve your brain health

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are essential to brain development and function, which is especially important in our 60s. These healthy fats may lower the risk of stroke and dementia, slow down mental decline, and enhance memory.

5. Add more calcium

It sounds like a no-brainer but in fact, many over 60s don’t include enough calcium in their diet – and we’re not just talking about milk. You also need vitamin D and magnesium to absorb the calcium, which can also be found in foods such as kale.

6. Focus on fat loss, not weight loss

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In your 60s, you cannot afford to lose muscle, organ tissue, or bone mass, which means focusing on the number on the scale is can be an incorrect way to measure your success. Instead, invest in a body fat measurement tool or simply just measure your waist size.

7. Be patient

It may be a cliche but Rome wasn’t built in a day and either was your weight loss goal. 60-year-old bodies are vastly different to a 20-somethings and this means we cannot just lose weight in a week any more. So avoid trying to push yourself too hard. Keep your focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle instead of a temporary diet, and that the results will be long-term and permanent. If you stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan, your weight will take care of itself over time.

8. Stretch

The more flexible you are, the more you will be able to get the most out of any physical activity you do and the less chance you’ll have of hurting yourself. And the less active you are, the more you may have noticed aches and pains. These can be avoided through stretching and conditioning your muscles. Consider taking a yoga class or doing simple stretches at home or with a trainer.

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9. Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre

Eating foods containing fibre are good for your digestion as constipation tends to become more common as you get older.

10. Consume less salt

Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of health problems such as heart disease or a stroke. Check food labels before you buy and choose ones that contain less salt. Don’t add salt to your food when cooking and at the table.

11. Follow calorie guidelines

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How many calories do older adults need?

Use the following as a guideline:

A woman over 50 who is:

Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
Very active needs about 2000 calories a day

A man over 50 who is:

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Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day

12. Food your body needs as you age

Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices

Veggies – Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots and squash.

Calcium – Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

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Grains – Look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list.

Protein – It’s important to vary your sources of protein instead of relying on just red meat, including more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk and cheese in your diet.

13. Avoid skipping meals

Some people think the fastest way to weight loss is through skipping meals but this is incorrect – this causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to feeling sluggish and making poorer choices later in the day. If you don’t have a big appetite, simply eat smaller meals even if you aren’t hungry.

14. Understand malnutrition

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Malnutrition is a huge health issue among older adults caused by eating too little food, too few nutrients, and by digestive problems related to ageing.

Tips for preventing malnutrition as you age:

  • Eat nutrient packed food
  • Have food available
  • Snack between meals
  • Eat with company as much as possible
  • Get help with food preparation

Do you have any other diet tips or tricks to add?