We all know that nutrition plays an important part in our well-being, no matter how old or young we are. At every stage of our lives, we require different things from our diet, and often have to change what we eat in order to meet the changing needs of our bodies. When we’re young, our parents help us learn good eating habits, but when we become adults, a nutritious and balanced diet isn’t always a priority for us.
“Remember when you were young and could eat anything without getting sick or gaining a pound? Unfortunately, a lot of seniors can coast along that way of eating throughout their entire lives and not really see any effects until it’s too late,” says Jake Quigley, Executive Director of Waterstone at the Circle, a luxury independent living community in the heart of Boston at the crossroads of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue. “A nutritious, healthy diet is essential for an older adult’s well-being because it provides our bodies with the fuel it needs to stave off chronic health issues and allow us to feel as good as possible for as long as possible.”
According to the National Council on Aging, what defines “healthy eating” changes as we age. “For example, our metabolism slows down when we reach retirement age, and we don’t need to eat as much as before,” says Jake. “However, our bodies end up requiring more essential nutrients than ever before. It becomes a bit of a balancing act in order to choose foods that are nutritionally dense without being calorically dense.” Plus, he adds, many older adults need to watch what they’re eating due to low-sodium or low-sugar requirements.
“At Waterstone at the Circle, we’re very aware that good nutrition plays a vital role in our resident’s active, healthy lifestyles, and we strive to pair that need with the elevated and refined tastes our residents have come to expect and demand.”
How Do Our Nutritional Needs Change As We Age?
1. You need fewer calories, but they need to work harder. Older adults generally don’t need to eat as much because of slower metabolisms. However, your nutrient needs are as high or higher than they were when you were young, so it’s essential to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods.
2. You need more protein to stay strong. We lose muscle tone as we age (a symptom known as sarcopenia), so seniors need to pair a protein-rich diet with exercise that focuses on resistance to maintain strength.
3. Fiber is essential, and you probably need more of it. Constipation and bowel-related issues increase as we get older, which is why having a good fiber intake is a must.
4. You’ll need more vitamins. Calcium, vitamin D, B12, magnesium, potassium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids are all nutrients that help our bodies as we age, and we need more and more of them as the years go by.
5. It’s easier to become dehydrated. Your body may not recognize when you aren’t getting enough water, so it becomes more important than ever to make hydration a habit – in other words, keep drinking even when you’re not thirsty.
6. You aren’t as hungry. Reduced appetite is a common symptom for seniors, whether it’s due to slowing metabolisms, loss of taste, medication side effects or other factors. If this issue doesn’t get addressed, this can lead to poor health, nutritional deficiencies and unsafe weight loss.
Five Tips for Eating Well to Age Well
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect – and even little changes can add up to big differences. Here are five tips you can begin integrating into your diet, whether you’re reaching retirement age, are already enjoying your senior years or are young (at heart or otherwise).
1. Limit the number of calories you take in while increasing nutrients.
Overeating is something that’s very easy to do no matter how old we are. Take a look at your plate and see how it adds up. Do you have a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables? What about whole grains? Lean proteins like fish or chicken? Are you opting for lower-fat dairy products or choosing full-fat options? Rightsize your meals by going heavy on whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding empty calories as much as possible.
2. Eat more protein.
Losing muscles mass and strength is a major cause of poor health among retirees. It causes weakness and increases the possibility of falls. Choose healthy sources of protein to add to your diet like nuts, lean meats, plant-based proteins like tofu or chia seeds. Sprinkle some chopped nuts on your salad or add an egg to your morning tea and toast, and you’ll watch the differences add up.
3. Get enough fiber.
While reaching for the Metamucil can help in the short term, it’s best to get your fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choosing unprocessed and whole foods will help your digestive system function properly.
4. Increase your vitamins
Again, while supplements can play an important role, it’s best to try and consume as much of your essential nutrients in food. Choose things like dairy products, dark and leafy vegetables, fish, healthy fats and other superfoods.
5. Drink more!
Grab a water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go. Being dehydrated can make medical conditions worse, cause fatigue and even make you look older. Remember: if you wait until you’re thirsty, you're already dehydrated!
“It’s easier to eat well when you’re living an active and engaged lifestyle,” says Jake. “At Waterstone at the Circle, we provide independent retirees with everything they need to stay energized and live their golden years in comfort and convenience. From delicious dining to luxury apartments to engaging activities and so much more, we provide the maintenance-free and worry-free lifestyle you deserve.”
For more information about eating well during retirement, or our luxury retirement lifestyle, contact the staff at Waterstone at the Circle.
Luxury Senior Living in Boston
Waterstone at the Circle, located in Boston’s historic Cleveland Circle neighborhood, is more than just independent living in Boston … it’s a sophisticated urban setting for today’s active seniors. Enjoy best-in-class service and a vibrant lifestyle with arts and cultural, and historical attractions right outside your front door. From high-end amenities to gourmet dining and more, experience the best of city and suburban life at our upscale senior living community located on the crossroads of Brookline and Chestnut Hill.
Elegant Independent Living Apartments
Each of our 92 independent living apartments is the height of luxury and modernity, with sophisticated design, upscale features and stunning views of the city. Create the urban senior living experience you want with one- or two-bedroom apartments, a variety of floor plans and monthly rentals.
Senior Living Supportive Services
As an over-62 community, residents may require support from time to time. That’s why we’ve developed an on-site coordinated care program, in cooperation with our premier community partners, that allows our Independent Living residents to receive the assistance they need.
The best part? Residents don’t have to leave our senior living community – or even their apartment – to receive high-quality support. They can receive the services they need, when they need it, in the comfort of their own homes or in our on-site therapy gym.
Waterstone at the Circle is the opposite of retiring. . . it’s a place to enhance your active, on-the-go lifestyle. Call 617.431.1880 for more information or to schedule a visit to our vibrant Boston Independent Living community and discover The Circle lifestyle today!