Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness and wellness goals in 2023. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
Gerry Smith, age 75, is on a mission to avoid a diabetes diagnosis. By walking, eating healthy, and practicing mindfulness she is improving her physical and mental well-being – with the support of family and community.
My previous blog post and presentation centered around movement, so today my focus is on meals and what we put in our bodies. I spend a lot of time and energy planning and preparing what I eat. I am a lifetime WeightWatchers® member, and I do my best to follow the MyPlate program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for creating balanced meals.
I have learned to love cooking, so I am always looking for new healthy ideas. I’m a big fan of cooking shows and webinars that encourage me to try new types of food. Whenever I travel, my goal is to take a cooking class in every country and city I visit! Asian, African, and Mediterranean cuisines are some of my favorites to prepare.
A Recipe for Success
Looking for inspiration to start cooking and eating healthier? Here are some MyPlate-inspired tips for older adults:
- Make eating a social event.
- Enjoy meals with friends or family members as often as possible. Take advantage of technology like Zoom to enjoy meals virtually with loved ones in different cities or states.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- You may not always feel thirsty when your body needs fluids, and that’s why it’s important to drink beverages throughout the day. Enjoy water, coffee and tea, milk, or 100% juice.
- Add a touch of spice!
- Limiting salt is important as you get older. Fresh and dried herbs and spices — such as basil, oregano, and parsley — add flavor without the salt.
- Make the most of your food choices.
- Older adults need plenty of nutrients, but generally fewer calories. It’s important to make every bite count. Foods that are full of vitamins and minerals are the best way to get what you need.
- Be mindful of your nutrient needs and speak with your healthcare provider about possible supplements.
- You may not be getting enough nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin B12, and protein. Check in with your doctor during your next visit.
- Read the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods.
- I read every label before I put something in my shopping cart. Sugar, salt, and extra fat are often hidden in food, so it is best to check the quantity of each on the label. When shopping, a great suggestion is to shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. This is where you’ll often find the fresh food.
- Keep food safe.
- Discard food if it has an “off” odor, flavor, or texture. Refer to the “use by” dates for a guide to freshness. Canned or frozen foods store well if shopping trips are difficult.
Not Enough Cooks in the Kitchen?
What if you don’t like to cook? Don’t worry, you can still source a balanced diet from pre-made and packaged food, if you read the labels. Here are some ideas:
- Rotisserie chicken
- Ready-to-eat hard-boiled eggs
- Canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
- Canned beans
- Frozen, pre-cooked grilled chicken strips
- Pre-cooked whole grains, like brown rice or quinoa
- Pre-cut fresh vegetables and fruit
- Frozen vegetables and fruit (no added salt, sugar, or sauce)
Foods with Friends
Join me on Wednesday, August 23, at 1:30pm EDT right here on seniorplanet.org to learn more about healthy eating and how to make a great vegetarian chili. I will be demonstrating one of my favorite recipes, and I hope to see you all there.
Let’s work together on putting good food in our bodies for a long healthy life!
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our free online exercise programs, get the latest fitness updates from Senior Planet by signing up for our health and wellness newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!