Eating properly can be a challenge as we get older but don’t get ‘stuck’ eating the same things and cooking the same meals every day says food lover, cook and blogger, Niav Halpin.
Eating well as we get older is just as important as it is when we are babies. It helps us feel good, gives us energy to do things and should be enjoyable. Also, unlike many aspects of our health and wellbeing, what we eat is totally within our control. A good diet can help decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol and can help greatly with recovery from illness or injury. Think of your food as medicine as well as one of life’s great pleasures!
Top tips to keep eating well
• Plan your meals and don’t skip a meal.
• Pack in the protein. We all lose muscle mass as we age and not getting enough protein can be detrimental to your health. Try to include some protein at each meal if you can. Eggs are a great source of protein and are the original fast food - scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and wholegrain toast can be made in five minutes and is the perfect way to start the day. Lean meat, turkey, chicken, salmon, sardines, tuna, beans, pulses or nuts are also great sources of protein.
• 5 a Day. Fruits and veggies are packed with important nutrients. However, eating five a day can be difficult. Remember these can be fresh or frozen and eating a variety is important as is colour. If you find this difficult try making smoothies. Many fruits freeze well and can be used straight from the freezer e.g. bananas, mangos, raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Spinach added to a fruit smoothie is an excellent way to get those super green leafy vegetables into your diet.
• Eat fibre-rich foods like 100% wholemeal or wholegrain bread, porridge /oatmeal, brown rice and brown pasta. A high-fibre diet can lower the risk of developing many chronic conditions including heart disease, obesity and some cancers.
• H2O - drink lots of water. Ideally you should drink 8 glasses / 2 litres a day as getting dehydrated can make you feel tired and sometimes dizzy.
• Avoid empty calories. This means limiting or avoiding processed foods like ready-made meals, sausages, cold meats, biscuits, cakes, savoury snacks (crisps, peanuts), sweets. These foods can be high in calories, fat, sugar and salt and low in nutrients.
• Fermented foods are super for digestion, gut health, reducing inflammation and for boosting the immune system. Many of these can be made at home such as milk kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. You can find making instructions on You Tube. They are also available to buy in many health food shops and online.
• Bone broth is a great source of protein and is good for joint and bone health. It can be drunk on its own or used in soups, stews or casseroles. You can make it at home if you can source the bones from a good butcher or it is available to buy in many good food stores and can be ordered online.
• Double up. If you are cooking something for dinner today double the amount and it will provide dinner or lunch tomorrow.
• Cook from scratch as this way you know what you are eating with no hidden sugars, salt or bad fats. It doesn’t have to be complicated. With good ingredients the simpler the better.
• Spice it up - try adding more herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon to add interest ad flavour.
• Running out of ideas? Check out cookery classes or courses in your area or look online for new recipes and great tips.