There are many benefits of eating healthy as you get older; resistance to illness and disease, increased energy, faster recovery time, as well as increased mental acuteness. Generally a longer and happier life! This does not have to mean sacrifice and diets, but rather the introduction of some healthy staples as well as a lager spread of fresh and brightly colored produce.
There are a couple of obstacles that we face when trying to eat healthy as we age. Firstly, as we get older our metabolism starts to slow, that means that if you eat the same as you did when you were twenty you will inevitably gain weight because you are burning fewer calories.
Secondly, as we age our taste and smell senses diminish, either naturally or due to medications or illness. To counteract the lack of taste we have a tendency to add more salt. Instead, try adding spices, herbs and healthy oils for flavor. Likewise, to add more sweetness without the sugar, try incorporating naturally sweet foods like peppers, yams and fruits.
The brain requires plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and nuts that are packed with omega-3 fatty acids to stay sharp as we age. So try incorporating more of these into your diet. If you are not a big seafood lover then consider taking omega-3 supplements.
Enjoy the good fats found in olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds; these will help protect you against heart disease.
Retain the nutrients in your vegetables when cooking by sautéing them in olive oil instead of boiling them. If chewing is difficult try eating your vegetables steamed, and consume healthy soft options like rice and yoghurt.
Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables will help avoid constipation and lower the risk of chronic disease. These are also considered complex carbohydrates, which provide you with long-lasting energy rather than a short-term spike from the likes of white flour and refined sugar products.
Watch out for sugars hidden in unsuspecting items like bread, pasta sauce, ketchup, canned soups and canned vegetables. They are often disguised in the ingredient deck as corn syrup, fructose, sucrose or cane juice. Where possible make it yourself, buy fresh, or choose frozen fruits and vegetables over the canned option.
Many people are afraid of change; you are not alone, so start small. Try swapping your potato fries for baked sweet potato fries for instance, or introducing some pieces of fruit in every meal.
Finally, focus on how good you feel after eating well, this will help make positive changes in your diet.
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