Brenda recently asked if we still prepare meals. Many readers who left comments said they still enjoyed cooking; a few said they didn’t, and someone said she didn’t see the point. That really touched me. In my mind, eating well is an act of awareness and love.
Maybe we are at a point in life where we no longer have family to cook for, but we still have ourselves. To quote Joan Rivers, “What am I? Chopped liver?” No, no we are not.
Now is not the time to give up eating well. Our nutritional needs are more important than ever.
We can simplify it, sure. But quit, no. Cheap snacks, low-quality carbs and starches, skipping meals, and relying on protein shakes are not the answer. Frozen dinners like Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice are both a bad choice.
- We need more protein to maintain muscle which diminishes with age.
- We need to minimize our bone loss.
- We can slow down the development of cataracts.
- We can avoid and/or relieve depression.
All of this can be done with a Mediterranean-style diet and moderate exercise. Simple and fresh!
PROTEIN: I’ve been reading articles on protein requirements as we age and go through menopause. In a study published in 2017, the people who ate the least amount of protein were also the people who had difficulty walking and climbing stairs. While everyone attributes this to “getting older,” in fact, it’s a combination of aging, sedentary lifestyle and diet. We can do something about two of the three!
I found this excellent article on protein by Kaiser Health News, plus here’s a helpful list of foods by serving size, calories and amount of protein. You might want to print it and put it on your refrigerator as a handy reference.
BONE LOSS: I know I sound like a broken record, but exercise! Move, walk, dance, jog, lift weights, (no, you will not look like a body-builder) canoe, kayak, swim laps, yoga, Pilates.
Cut-out the things that rob calcium from your bones: phosphates in soft drinks, too much alcohol (more than 7 drinks per week), too much salt, too much caffeine. We need approximately 1,200 mg of calcium daily, and food is the best source for stronger bones.
CATARACTS/EYE HEALTH: A diet that’s good for your body is good for your eyes. Orange Is the “New Green” here. Beta carotene, found in carrots, is also found in sweet potatoes, kale, turnip and mustard greens, spinach and butternut squash. Vitamin C may also be beneficial in slowing cataract progression. The American Optometric Association recommends at least 250mg per day.
DEPRESSION: Research shows a diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish and unprocessed lean meat can prevent depression. And an unhealthy diet high in processed and refined foods increases our risk.
We are living longer, and I am sure we want to feel well enough to enjoy being here. We can affect that with our food choices. Last thought: If you smoke, please make the choice to quit. You’re important!