A Visual Guide to Planning Nutritious Senior Meals

A Visual Guide to Planning Nutritious Senior Meals

As we age our bodies require fewer calories, but our nutritional needs remain constant. So the older we get, the more important it gets to load up our meals and snacks with healthy nutrients. Planning nutritious senior meals that your parents or care receivers will enjoy is much less of a challenge if you start with Tufts University’s MyPlate for Older Adults.

nutritious senior meals

Why There’s a MyPlate for Older Adults

The old USDA “food pyramid” is dead. In the summer of 2011 it was replaced by new USDA food guidelines and a new image called “MyPlate”.  All adults have the same basic nutritional needs, but the way we get our nutrients changes as we age. After age 70 our dietary needs are affected by health issues such as high blood pressure, lowered activity levels, and reduced gut function.  The scientists at Tufts University’s USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging studied these changing needs and created MyPlate for Older Adults, a visual quick guide to healthy senior meals.

The 4 “Main Ingredients” for Planning Nutritious Senior Meals

MyPlate for Older Adults is divided into four parts. The plate itself has three sections, and where the original USDA My Plate shows a glass of milk, the senior version has a circle for beverages.

  1. The fruit and vegetable group takes up half the plate. Half of senior meals should be made up of fresh produce with vibrant colors that are loaded with nutrients: dark greens, deeply colored berries, and orange vegetables like sweet potatoes. You can supplement fresh produce with low-sodium canned vegetables and canned fruit in its own juice to save money or time.

  2. The next quarter of the plate shows options for whole grain, enriched and fortified grain foods because these types of grains and breads provide much better nutrition and fiber than refined grains and are necessary for senior wellness.

  3. The final quarter of the plate  combines low- or non-fat dairy foods and plant source protein foods as well as lean meats and fish.

  4. In the beverage circle you’ll see several glasses of water, tea, juice and other liquids. Dehydration is a common problem for the elderly so it’s vital to encourage plenty of beverages throughout the day.

While it’s always a good idea to talk to a primary care doctor about your or your aging parents’ daily diet, remembering the four MyPlate for Older Adults food groups will make planning nutritious senior meals much easier.

 

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2013-10-03T08:26:06+00:00September 25th, 2013|Categories: Senior Aging|Tags: |