God knows it’s hard to eat right. It’s not that we don’t know how to or want to, it’s just sooo difficult. We grasp the importance of taking care of our bodies now so will be stronger and healthier as we begin to get older. Working in aging services, I see vigorous 90 year-olds and frail baby boomers. Establishing good eating habits early on will go a long way down the road.
But we are only human and temptation abounds! And it starts first thing in the morning. You walk in to the deli to get a coffee and right away the sizzle and smell of bacon becomes the single most important current event impacting your existence. But you are strong and don’t shout out an order for a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll.
Getting on line with your coffee you look behind the counter and see every type of bagel known to man filling pretty little cloth-lined wicker baskets. Still, you resist. Shuffling forward, you divert your eyes away from the shiny, plump breads. But then, disaster strikes. There, in full view, sits a giant, open gray bakery box with the most delectable-looking pastries. How amazing would that strawberry cheese danish be with your coffee?
You ponder the possibility, but still you are strong. When you get to the register you ask resignedly for the fruit cup. You made what is annoyingly known as “the healthy choice.” And, of course, that is a good thing, even though you might not feel that way in the moment.
If I start the day out “good,” then I feel like I am leaving the door open for some other, one of a kind opportunity later in the day, should it come about. You know, a co-worker’s birthday cake, the arrival of the much anticipated Girl Scout cookie order, or the last minute decision to get Chinese take-out for dinner.
There is no doubt that when we eat better and try to exercise, or at least be active in some way, we do feel better physically and psychologically. If we do what we can to preserve our health it will certainly stand to us as we age.
Over the years we have heard about certain foods that are good for us. We don’t always know exactly why, just that they are, be it vitamins or healing properties, etc. The following list of top ten healthy foods for seniors, as listed by the Seniors Health Insurance group, explains the value of these ten, particular foods and how we can benefit from them. Although the list is for “seniors” these foods work for everybody (unless, of course, one is allergic or there are medication contraindications)
Top Ten Healthy Foods for Seniors
- Yogurt: As the years go by, seniors lose bone mass and bones can become brittle. To keep your bones strong calcium is essential. Yogurt provides your body with the calcium you need along with active cultures or probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria, which are beneficial to your colon and intestines. It can help you stay regular, improve your immune system, and help protect you against cancer.
- Fish: Fish has many great qualities. Not only does it help with lowering cholesterol but it also helps improve memory, attention, motor skills, vision, and verbal fluency.
- Beans: Beans are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, which help fight cancer and heart disease.
- Eggs: Eggs are high in protein and iron, which will keep you energized throughout the day.
- Tomatoes: High in vitamin C and A, tomatoes can help you absorb iron, keep your immune system healthy and preserve your eyesight.
- Spinach: This is a super vegetable high in folic acid, thiamin, iron, vitamin A and C, fiber, potassium and antioxidents
- Whole grains: Foods such as bread, rice, cereal, dried beans are high in fiber, which keeps you regular, helps lower cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and help fights against heart disease and cancer.
- Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and B6. Vitamin A can help fight emphysema in seniors who smoke. It can also help with eye health. Vitamin B6 helps prevent stroke and heart attacks.
- Nuts: High in vitamin E and magnesium, nuts can help you lower your LDL cholesterol and lower your chances of suffering from heart disease.
- Water: It may not be food, per se, but it's essential for your health. Approximately seventy percent of your body is water. While enjoying your retirement, you'll need to keep hydrated so your organs function properly and stay strong.
And so, there you have it. There is much to be said for eating well and living well, as a rule. There is also much to be said for the exception to the rule. My exception to the rule is having that strawberry cheese Danish…or peanut butter cookies… or maybe pound cake and ice cream. But it’s okay, I will always find my way back to the fruit cup!