Healthy Eating for Older Adults

Aging Well in Ottawa

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Eat a Variety of Foods Every Day 

Nutrient needs change as we age; older adults need fewer calories but more of some vitamins and minerals. Canada's food guide recommends eating a variety of foods every day to help keep food interesting and enjoyable while still providing the nutrients you need. 

For excellent tips and ideas to make healthy eating easy and enjoyable, use A Guide to Healthy Eating for Older Adults.

How are your eating habits?  Find out with Nutri-eSCREEN®!  This is a short questionnaire that will help you find out how you are doing with choosing foods that help you stay healthy and active.  You will get a personalized report that tells you what you’re doing well and how you can improve.  The report includes personalized healthy eating tips, links to credible nutrition articles, community resources and tools, and delicious healthy recipes.

This video explains why healthy eating patterns are so important for healthy aging. 


Keep Your Bones Healthy 

Calcium and vitamin D are good for your bones and more...

  • Calcium helps your heart, muscles and nerves work properly.
  • Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use calcium.

Get your calcium from food

  • Try to eat a variety of foods that are high in calcium every day (for example, 250 mL milk, 175 mL yogurt, 75 g salmon, grilled cheese sandwich). 
  • Calcium is more enjoyable and more easily absorbed from food than from a supplement (pill).
  • You may need a supplement if you do not eat a variety of foods high in calcium a day.
  • Talk to your health care provider before taking a calcium supplement. It should not be taken with certain medications. Getting too much calcium can cause health problems like constipation and kidney stones.

Take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU every day, if you are over 50

  • You also need to eat foods that contain vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods but it is in fatty fish, egg yolk and liver. That's why vitamin D is added to some foods like cow's milk, some orange juice, soy, almond or rice beverages, and margarine.
  • If you don't eat enough good quality sources of vitamin D, you may need a stronger supplement. Talk to your health care provider about it.

Something you can do...

  • Read labels to find good sources of calcium and vitamin D.  Check the Nutrition Facts Table on the package and look for 15% or more daily value (DV) for calcium.
  • Add skim milk powder or evaporated milk to your recipes.
  • Try margarine on your toast and in recipes for added vitamin D.
  • Enjoy a coffee or tea latte (with steamed milk) or homemade hot chocolate for extra calcium and vitamin D. 
  • For dessert, have plain yogurt with fruit, or milk-based pudding.

Mission Healthy Bones lists the sources of both calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth.

Try these calcium and vitamin D-rich recipes to boost your intake. 

Drink Plenty of Fluids 
It is important for your body to have plenty of fluids each day. Water helps you digest food, absorb nutrients, and then get rid of the unused waste. With age, some people may lose their sense of thirst and some medicines might make it even more important to have plenty of fluids. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fainting and low blood pressure. These may put you at higher risk for falling.  Learn more about how much fluid you need each day. 
Eat Enough Fibre 
Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system. To avoid constipation and other problems, include fibre-rich foods at every meal. Soluble fibre is especially important for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Good sources of fibre include: vegetables and fruits, beans and lentils, whole grains, and nuts, seeds and dried fruit. 
Stay Social - Eating Together is Better  
When you can, enjoy meals with your friends and family. Eating with someone promotes healthy eating and mental health.  Social interaction can turn mealtimes into an enjoyable affair, rather than a chore you would rather skip. Make your mealtime special; you will be more likely to eat better and enjoy your meals more. 

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