Taking in beneficial and balanced eating habits plays an essential role in maintaining your health as you age. It could make it possible for you to safeguard a healthy weight, stay energetic and focused, and keep your body flowing with nutrients. Additionally, it lessens one’s risk of developing long-term health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
It can be challenging to curb eating habits that help you lose weight and maintain your longevity if you aren’t up to speed on proper nutrition. Approximately 11 million deaths are caused by unhealthy eating habits per year, including the disease-related deaths per year caused by poor diet. In general, this is the leading cause of death and disease in the entire world.
To fulfill your dietary needs, you need to consume meals that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients. Limit meals that are considerably high in processed sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt. You might additionally want to adjust your eating habits to manage long-term health problems. It’s never too late to start caring about your health and start eating a healthy diet.
Today we’re going to take a peek into the effects of obesity in seniors and a few tips to make a positive, impactful change in your diet.
Can a Higher Weight Be a Good Thing?
It’s generally understood and technically verified that carrying excess weight increases the risk and mortality rate in numerous chronic illnesses. The truth is, the bulk of organs and body functions are adversely affected by obesity. Most frequently, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, and specific types of cancer are found in patients afflicted with surplus fat. As we age, physical degeneration is also a significant issue because of the effect being overweight has on joints. Nonetheless, experts have outlined a strange happening called “the obesity paradox.” Despite the fact that, in your youth, being fat or obese is clearly linked to a reduced life expectancy, it looks like, at an older age, that’s not always the case. Brand new, exciting studies have displayed that there is an “ideal” protective weight to help maintain bodily functions in your later years.
Senior patients with certain conditions appear to live a lengthier life when they are noted to have a surplus of body fat. However, this phenomenon is still heavily debated, and there are a few uncertainties as to whether or not it’s true. A few experts hint that the reports suggest that, as adults transition into seniors, those who are prone to the harmful consequences of obesity may have already lost the battle to their conditions, and it became their new norm.
Before starting any diet, you should talk to your doctor to evaluate whether or not losing weight is right for you. Because of recent evidence, some people may be better off without losing weight in the later stages of their lives.
How to Safely Lose Weight as a Senior
As a senior, you’re not going to see many differences in how to lose weight as you would have when you were young. When you commit to a diet, you’re committing to a change in your lifestyle. You should always incorporate a tiny bit of exercise into your diet for the most effective results in an effort to keep your body running at an optimal level of performance. To reduce any risk, you should stick to foods that are proven to work rather than the trend or “fad” diets. You need to make sure that everything you eat is nutritionally well-balanced and especially carries enough protein to prevent your muscles from wasting away.
One of the more challenging aspects of losing weight at an older age is that you may be taking a handful of medications. A lot of drugs require you to eat within a set amount of time before or after receiving them, which can cause a bit of a hiccup in your diet. Although it may be more work, you can still plan a menu around a medication schedule. It’s not necessarily safe to jump directly into exercise either, so be sure to speak with your general practitioner before starting exercises at any intensity level because it might not go well with your blood pressure medication or statins.
If you’re healthy enough to avoid using weight loss medications or the need for bariatric surgery, you should stick to diet and exercise. It’s better to reach your goals naturally. The older you are, the more challenging any surgery becomes, and the risk of complications becomes exponentially higher.
A Seniors Dietary Needs
As you grow older, your metabolism will naturally slow down. To maintain a healthy weight, you shouldn’t be eating more calories than your body is going to burn. Twenty years ago, eating incredibly large portions may have been doable without you gaining weight, but at some point, you have to reduce the amount of food that you eat gradually.
As your muscles and joints wear out, you’ll find yourself becoming less and less active. Because of this, your body is naturally not going to burn as many calories throughout your day. You’re also going to lose muscle mass without maintaining physical fitness.
Eventually, you’re going to lose your appetite, which is usually accompanied by a loss of smell and taste.
Did you know that not eating enough can contribute to obesity? When you undergo a hypocaloric diet, your metabolism slows down even more. In turn, your body tells itself it’s starving and that it should try to conserve as much of your body’s natural reserve of energy as possible. You need to make sure that you’re able to eat full nutritious portions of food for optimal health.
Helpful Dieting Tips For Seniors
Drink More Water
Becoming dehydrated as a senior is incredibly common. Dehydration happens when your body loses more water than it’s currently holding onto. Without enough water, your body isn’t able to regulate its temperature through sweating, maintain healthy blood pressure, and get rid of nasty toxins and waste.
You shouldn’t be ashamed of being dehydrated at an older age because there are several factors that might contribute to dehydration. In the later stages of life, you may end up taking several medications at once, some of which might be diuretics that will naturally dehydrate you. Something that isn’t always known is that you also lose your sense of thirst the older you get. Lastly, your kidneys progressively become weaker, starting at age 50, and will have a significant impact on your body by your mid to late seventies.
At this point, you should be aiming to drink more water whether or not you feel that you need it. Drinking water can help you lose weight for a few reasons, and it will help you keep your body in better condition.
Water serves as a natural hunger suppressant. Just by drinking a glass of water before every meal, your body will have an easier time with digestion and will ultimately burn more calories.
Sometimes, when you’re overweight, your body tends to retain more water than if you were thin.
Water retention can be a good thing, but it’s best to keep a steady flow of liquids running through your system so your body doesn’t have to work harder to hold on to a tiny bit of water. That same little bit of water that your body might hold on to is also referred to as water weight.
Eat Every Food Group
Although you might have grown to be a bit picky as the years roll by, you should still consume a balanced diet by eating a variety of different foods. You’re not going to get the nutrients you need by eating a limited selection in your diet. A healthy meal should consist of protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy.
Provided you’re able to cook for yourself, planning out healthy meals week by week is a great way to stay on top of unhealthy eating habits so you can lose weight. Try to find something you like and make a week’s worth of it in one go for the best effect.
If you or someone close to you needs to eat a healthier diet but can’t maintain a certain level of independence, you might want to look into a meal planning and preparation service. There’s no shame in asking for help, especially when it comes to improving your overall health. Some companies will work to create a budget, deliver food directly to you, and even cook everything for you in your home if you’re looking to have a healthy and nutritious meal without any of the effort involved.
Eat Less Salty Foods
We often become incredibly accustomed to eating foods containing way more salt than we need to eat. Salt can have a direct impact on your blood sugar and can eventually lead to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.
Reducing the amount of salt you eat is a great way to help maintain your health. When it comes to weight loss, the amount of salt we eat is usually from processed foods, sugary drinks, and fast food. Most of these things are incredibly high in calories, which your body is going to have trouble breaking down. The result is a steady and gradual weight gain.
As a senior, it becomes incredibly easy to live a more indulgent lifestyle. Eating healthy foods becomes more of a challenge when you have the convenience of high-sodium, ready-to-eat food after retiring.
Quit Eating Refined Sugars
Refined sugars are sugars that have been processed from fruits and vegetables, resulting in sugars that your body has difficulty breaking down. Because your body doesn’t know what to do with the extra energy that you put in from refined sugars, it just stores it, and it eventually becomes fat.
If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to start eating naturally sweet foods, such as soft fruits, fresh beets, or yams. You can even substitute refined sugars for artificial sweeteners or something natural like honey or applesauce to add a hint of sweetness to your meal.
Eat More Protein
As early as your forties, your body begins to lose bone and muscle, and it has no problem packing on a few extra pounds in the form of fat. To combat your bone and muscle loss, you might want to consider eating high amounts of protein in your low-calorie diet.
In a study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, 100 adults over the age of 65 were put into two random groups. Each group ate a different amount of protein, and the group that ate food rich in calcium and vitamin D successfully maintained more of their healthy body mass than the other. The group with a healthy balance of vitamins, minerals, and protein lost an average of 18 pounds each, and 87 percent of those pounds were fat. They maintained healthy bone and muscle masses and lost weight around their stomach, hips, and thighs, ultimately leaving them all feeling healthier than they were before beginning their diet. The scientists conducting the study estimated that they were able to successfully increase the longevity of a person’s life through a protein and nutrient-rich diet.
Simply eat more lean protein, including fish, egg-whites, and turkey for the best results. You can also try some protein-rich produce, including whole grains, beans, and lentils. Asides from being able to help maintain healthy bones and muscles, protein keeps you feeling full. Your body tells itself that it’s not hungry by releasing a handful of anti-hunger hormones with each serving of protein, which can effectively help you lose weight.
Journal What You Like Eating
You don’t have to create an incredibly detailed journal entry; you just have to record what you love eating. Every time you eat a healthy meal that you enjoyed, take note of it in a small notepad or even on a sticky note. You should be able to enjoy the food you eat when you’re trying to lose weight.
Our memories don’t serve us as well as they once did, and it can be challenging to remember which foods worked with our diets. Journaling and taking notes is an easy way to have something to refer to if you can’t remember precisely which food it was that you ranted and raved about last week.
Control Your Portions
We tend to eat as much food as we serve ourselves without thinking about the consequences of overeating. Overeating comes with a lot of adverse side effects. Weight gain, pressure on your internal organs, damaged hormone levels, and higher risks of disease all come with eating a little bit too much.
An easy strategy to combat overeating starts with using smaller plates and bowls. According to several studies, we’re more prone to filling a larger plate or bowl and often feel obligated to finish everything we serve ourselves. When you downsize, you’ll naturally end up using your plate as a guide for your portion sizes and will ultimately eat less as your stomach gets used to eating regular portions.
An additional step to make sure you’re not overeating is double-checking the back of your products for the recommended serving sizes. This makes it way easier to calorie count and reduce the amount of food that you eat.
After mastering portion control, practicing mindful eating goes hand-in-hand with the healthier lifestyle that you’re trying to achieve. One of the reasons that we overeat is that we eat way too quickly and don’t stop to really enjoy our meals. Your body isn’t registering the amount of food that you put in your stomach by the time you’re done eating, and you’ll end up having consistent discomfort.
The best tip that anyone can give you is to slow down and actively engage all of your senses in the way you eat. This is a surefire way to enjoy your food and give your body the time it needs to recognize when it’s full. Additionally, you might want to eat without any distractions, as it’s been found that eating while sitting in front of a TV or in a crowded social setting might cause you to eat more because you aren’t paying attention to your food.
By the time you’ve retired, you’ll likely have gotten used to taking lunch breaks at work and felt pressure to eat your food faster than you needed to. Forgetting to enjoy your food mindfully becomes second nature and can easily be corrected with a little bit of practice.