We’ve been eating from the moment we were brought into this world. It’s a pleasurable activity that feeds not only our nutritional needs but increases our happiness on an emotional level and goes hand in hand with the kind of activities we all enjoy. However, as our bodies change, so do our requirements for the amount and types of food we need to thrive.
The ‘healthy food pyramid’ we all learned about as youngsters has recently been turned on its head and rebranded to ‘Healthy heart visual food guide’. This updated guide advocates eating fruit and vegetables most, followed by breads, then meat, fish, legumes and eggs, milk and dairy and lastly oils and nuts. The Heart Foundation is a good source of information and guidance, suggesting it’s a good idea to reduce highly processed and refined foods.
You’ve been served
The Ministry of Health (MOH) booklet “Eating for Healthy Older People” recommends eating at least seven servings of vegetables and fruit each day, this is broken down into at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit. Keep in mind the amount you are serving yourself also when eating other food groups - as tempting as it maybe to wolf down a block of chocolate, your body won’t thank you later!
Look to the stars
The Health Star Rating is a good system to use when making choices about packaged foods at the supermarket. You could use it to compare similar packaged foods – it’s easy! The more stars a food has, the healthier it is. The star rating is usually clearly displayed on the packaging of most supermarket food products.
Aged Care nutrition at your village
A good question to ask is how retirement villages and care facilities encourage good nutrition and provide menus that support the healthy heart visual food guide. At Rymans, for example, there is a choice of three main courses, including a vegetarian option. They also cater for special dietary requirements. Often facilities will offer individually frozen meals - made from scratch using fresh, natural ingredients which make dinner prep a whizz when you’re really not in the mood to create dishes!
If you’ve got a green thumb, consider growing your own healthy edibles, as suggested here by long time gardener Bevis Blow of Ryman's Anthony Wilding Village in Halswell, Christchurch. Having a veggie patch or some indoor edibles on the go not only provides nice, fresh produce for you and your community, it also offers the opportunity for friendships to grow while getting regular exercise. You’ll even get to save a few dollars and enjoy the fruits of your labour when it’s harvest time!
By keeping good nutrition in mind (balanced with the odd treat!) you’ll continue to feed your body and help keep a clear head to ensure you get the most out of the golden years.