Healthy eating is important at any age, but becomes even more so as we reach midlife and beyond. As you age, eating a healthy diet can help to improve mental acuteness, boost your energy levels, and increase your resistance to illness. Eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Rather, it should be all about enjoying fresh, tasty food, wholesome ingredients, and eating in the company of friends and family.
No matter your age or your previous eating habits, it’s never too late to change your diet and improve the way you think and feel. Improving your diet now can help you:
Live longer and stronger. Good nutrition can boost immunity, fight illness-causing toxins, keep weight in check, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, and cancer. Along with physical activity, a balanced diet can also contribute to enhanced independence as you age.
Sharpen your mind. People who eat fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids may be able to improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant-rich green tea may also enhance memory and mental alertness as you age.
Feel better. Wholesome meals can give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a boost to your mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body feels good, you feel happier inside and out.
Healthy eating is about more than just food
Eating well as you age is about more than just the quality and variety of your food. It’s also about the pleasure of eating, which increases when a meal is shared. Eating with others can be as important as adding vitamins to your diet. A social atmosphere stimulates your mind, makes meals more enjoyable, and can help you stick to your healthy eating plan.
Even if you live alone, you can make healthy meals more pleasurable by:
Shopping with others. Shopping with a friend can give you a chance to catch up without falling behind on your chores. It’s also a great way to share new meal ideas and save money on discount deals like “buy one, get the second half price”.
Cooking with others. Invite a friend to share cooking responsibilities—one prepares the entrée, the other dessert, for example. Cooking with others can be a fun way to deepen your relationships, and splitting costs can make it cheaper for both of you.
Making mealtimes a social experience. The simple act of talking to a friend or loved over the dinner table can play a big role in relieving stress and boosting mood. Gather the family together regularly and stay up to date on everyone’s lives. Invite a friend, coworker, or neighbor over. Visiting an adult day care center or enrolling in a senior meal program can also provide both companionship and nutritious meals for older adults.