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Healthy meals important for seniors, everyone

June welcomes summertime — sunshine, backyard barbeques, vacations and outside fun. It’s a time of the year when we all feel a little more motivated to exercise and eat better.

Fresh summertime fruits and vegetables make it a little easier to be creative with our diets, but it’s always important to incorporate a healthy meal year round — not only for seniors, but for all ages.

Take a look at these tips from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and kick-start your healthy meal program.

1) Make Half Your Plate Veggies and Fruit — Vegetables and fruit are full

of nutrients and may help to promote good health. Choose red, orange, and dark green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

2) Add Lean Protein – Choose protein foods, such as lean beef and pork, or chicken, turkey, beans or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

3) Include Whole Grains — Aim to make a least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100 percent whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients like fiber, than refined grains.

4) Don’t Forget the Dairy — Pair your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. They provide the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. Don’t drink milk? Try soy milk (soy beverage) as your beverage or include fat-free or low-fat yogurt in your meal.

5) Avoid Extra Fat — Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. For example, steamed broccoli is great, but avoid topping it with cheese sauce. Try other options, like a sprinkle of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

6) Take Your Time — Savor your food. Eat slowly, enjoy the taste and textures, and pay attention to how you feel. Be mindful. Eating very quickly may cause you to eat too much.

7) Use a Smaller Plate — Use a smaller plate at meals to help with portion control. That way, you can finish your entire plate and feel satisfied without overeating.

8) Take Control of Your Food — Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose healthier options such as baked instead of fried.

9) Try New Foods — Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, or kale. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.

10) Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in a Healthy Way — Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish — fruit! Serve a fresh fruit cocktail or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

For more information about our Chronic Disease Self-Management Classes, call our Agency at 1-800-582-7277. We can also assist you with any questions concerning long-term care options and home and community-based services and what programs and services might be available for you or someone you might know.


Pamela K. Matura is executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7. The non-profit agency serves senior citizens in Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties.