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This month Be Active Be Well focuses on National Nutrition Month. Nutrition is defined as the act or process of nourishing or being nourished, according the Merriam-Webster. To nourish is to offer more than just bread and water, or a drive-through burger. Nourishment provides the proper variety of healthful foods, and water, to promote overall mental and bodily health. We also recognize that as our body ages, obstacles might arise that cause difficulty eating certain foods.
Food and nutrition play a crucial role in health promotion and chronic disease prevention, says health.gov. Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and poor bone health (all chronic diseases) have increased in the US. Health.gov attributes these increases partly to poor quality eating habits. According to the National Health Service, a balanced diet includes fruits and vegetables; lean meats; wholegrain items, such as quinoa and barley; legumes; and limited amounts of sugary and high-fat foods. Take a moment to read last month’s post to see our suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.
MyPlate, a resource from the United States Department of Agriculture, offers tools and resources for healthy eating. MyPlate divides foods into 7 categories: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Protein, Dairy, Oils, and Solid Fats/Added Sugars. Each category has specific lists of food choices, suggested daily recommendations, and foods to avoid. Being familiar with each food group is helpful for meal planning. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us that it is important to make informed food choices and develop sound eating habits. They also suggest some universal tips:
- Regularly eat a variety of healthful foods from all food groups
- Buy smaller quantities that can be eaten or frozen within a few days, and plan to use the leftovers for future meals that week
- Portion control: eat and drink the amount that is right for you
- Consider consulting a dietary professional to help create an individualized plan that fits your specific dietary needs and lifestyle: Be Active Be Well recommends Daniella Dayoubfor dietary consulting and pantry evaluation
As we age, we might experience problems with teeth or dentures that make chewing certain foods difficult. Our sense of taste can weaken, but medication or dental problems can also make food taste differently, says the National Institute on Aging. Dry mouth and other health problems can make swallowing food difficult. Remember that regular visits with dental and medical providers may help with these factors that would keep you from proper nutrition. Herbs or spices also can be used to add flavor to meals without adding sodium. Some days you may not feel hungry. Light exercise each day can give you more of an appetite. If you live alone and cooking for one feels boring or depressing, consider cooking or sharing a meal with friends as a way to make healthy eating more enjoyable.
A lifestyle of nutrition takes effort and proper guidance. Always involve your medical professionals in your wellness journey.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.