“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” This is the advice food author Michael Pollan gave in a lecture to a massive crowd of CDC scientists in 2009. Canada’s new food guide, launched in January 2019, seems to agree with Pollan. When it comes to healthy eating for seniors, the key is to keep it simple.
Canada’s New Food Guide
Gone are the four “food groups” and the recommended number of servings. In their place in a simple diagram of a plate: half is filled with colourful fruits and veggies; a quarter with protein-rich foods, including meat, lentils, eggs, and dairy; and the last quarter is filled with whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, and multigrain bread. The goal is to fill your plate like this at every meal. The only other piece of advice on the main page of the guide? Drink water.
People make healthier choices when they aren’t rushing through a meal. Plan your mealtimes and prep food ahead if you think you’ll be in a rush.
Cooking at home is a fantastic way to encourage healthy eating for seniors. Some seniors find cooking to be too much for them. If this is the case, find someone to help out! There are lots of services that will deliver home-cooked meals; home support services can also help with meal prep.
It’s hard to feel satisfied if you barely notice the food you’re eating. Canada’s new food guide recommends learning to enjoy your food and mealtimes. Try new foods. Use your mealtimes to socialize. Involve others in the shopping and preparing stages. Create an eating environment that makes you happy. Healthy eating for seniors is about more than the food on your plate.
Feeling thirsty? Reach for the water, not the juice or pop. Fruit and vegetable juices contain empty calories — they often contain more sugar than pop and aren’t much healthier. Limit drinks that are high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fat, such as juices, pop, “fruit drinks,” alcohol, hot chocolate, and specialty teas and coffees made with higher fat dairy.
If plain water isn’t your thing, try carbonated (sparkling) water, homemade fruit- and herb-infused water, low-fat unsweetened white milk, unsweetened fortified plant-based beverages such as soy or almond beverages, and unsweetened coffee and tea.
Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Make water, unsweetened teas and coffee, and low-fat milk your drinks of choice. Turn your meals into something that excites you, rather than a rushed process. Cook at home or have someone help you. That’s all it takes to promote healthy eating for seniors, according to Canada’s new food guide.