The Cottages Blog

The National Eating Guidelines for Seniors Have Been Adjusted

Posted by Glenda Beavers on Jul 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM


MyPlate is the current nutritional guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture that replaced the old food pyramid. They recently made changes to how they say seniors should be eating in order to stay healthy. Over 10 million seniors in the United States are what’s known as “food-insecure”. This means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Knowing what types of foods they should be focusing on is just one step that can help seniors across our country eat better meals.


Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

Under the new guidelines, fruits and vegetables take up nearly half of the MyPlate diet. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests that seniors focus on eating dark, leafy vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, which are rich in fiber and other nutrients that are good for your heart and your blood sugar. Focus on the foods that are naturally colorful. Fruits and vegetables that have dark-colored flesh, like berries, are fantastic, brain-healthy food choices.

Frozen and Canned Foods Are Acceptable Alternatives

It’s not always possible, convenient, or easy to eat fresh produce. The new MyPlate guidelines state that, for seniors, frozen and canned foods are perfectly fine alternatives to fresh foods. Frozen and canned foods have basically the same amounts of nutrients that fresh foods do, and they last longer than fresh produce do. Try to choose canned fruits that are packed in their own juices and vegetables that are labeled low-sodium.

Eat Fewer Calories

Seniors need a lot of nutrients, but they are not as active as younger adults, so they don’t need as many calories. There are ways that you can get the proper amounts of nutrients that your body needs without getting too many calories. Eating fiber-rich foods, like leafy greens and whole grains, can help keep you full and will supply you with plenty of vitamins and very few calories.

Avoid Salt

Consuming excess salt has been linked to several chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Instead of salt, use herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your meals. There are several herbs and spices that have health-boosting benefits. Vinegar, white and apple cider varieties, is also a great alternative to salt. If you enjoy your food on the spicier side, all-natural hot sauces with no added preservatives can be used to add a salty kick to your meals as well.

Get Protein from Multiple Sources

Protein is a necessary part of our diets. It helps us to build and maintain healthy muscles. Lean meats and fish are great sources of protein, but you can also find protein in nuts, beans, healthy oils, eggs, and other types of dairy. Along with protein, these types of foods also contain the right types of healthy fats that our bodies need, but don’t go overboard. Only have one serving of these types of foods per meal, and try choosing low-fat or fat-free versions of dairy.

Drink Enough Fluids

Many people focus on the foods that they eat, but they often forget to pay attention to whether or not they are drinking enough. It is very important for seniors to stay hydrated, as they are admitted to the hospital for dehydration six times more often than younger adults are. Drink liquids like water, tea, coffee, and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices. Eat foods high in water content like soups, fruits, and yogurt. Take a water bottle along with you when you know you are going to be outside for a long period of time, particularly in warmer weather.

Stay Active

Physical activity has been added to the MyPlate placemat as a reminder that senior adults should not only be eating right, but they should be maintaining healthy exercise habits as well. Walking, biking, and swimming are all featured on the MyPlate placemat. Learn how to develop a good senior exercise routine.


Caregiver's Field Guide to Assisted Living

Topics: Senior Health Care

Glenda Beavers

Written by: Glenda Beavers

Glenda, a Russellville, Alabama native, moved to Tuscumbia as a teenager, where she still resides. She currently attends University of North Alabama. Glenda has worked in a pharmacy, hospital and has years of experience private sitting for seniors. "Seniors are such precious people to me, and I love being able to be a part of their life on a day to day basis at the Cottage," she says. Married 43 years, Glenda enjoys spending time with her two sons and five grandchildren. She attends Valdosta Baptist Church in Tuscumbia.