“What’s On Your Plate?” Smart Eating

As we age, our body’s nutrition requirements change. There are specific nutrients we need more of than we did in our youth, such as Vitamin D and calcium for bone loss, to name a few. Learn about vitamins, food safety and stretching your budget to eat healthier, in addition to nutrition tips for healthy aging.

“What’s On Your Plate?” Smart Eating

Eating Smart Does Not Need to Be Hard

Most of us grew up learning the food pyramid.  We know that eating smart is about having a variety and balance of foods from each of the major food groups (e.g., fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats).  It’s true that as we age, our body’s nutrition requirements do change.  We’re less active than we were in our 20’s and 30’s and the number of calories we need decrease.  Yet, there are some nutrients we need more that we did in our youth, such as Vitamin D anc calcium for bone loss.  That’s why the National Insitute on Aging developed “What’s on Your Plate?”.


(Click to See Answers)

Can you really prevent or delay disease by what you eat?
Yes, you can!  Eating well, according to the NIH Senior Health, may indeed help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and prevent the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The reality is that we can’t change everything at once, which is why it’s recommended to make small changes…one at a time.  Here’s a short list of changes that you might want to consider for starters:

  • Get rid of the extra salt, by reducing how much you cook with and by not placing it on the table to add while eating.
  • Decide what you might enjoy more, fruits or vegetables, and start buying a wider variety when you shop so that you can eat more of these healthy treats!
  • Drink more water.  We hear that all the time, because most of us don’t get enough fluids.  If you’re not a big water fan, check out other healthy ways to get more liquids throughout the day at the NIH’s Go4Life.
How long is it okay for food to be in the refrigerator before needing to be tossed out?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have created a simple chart of perishable foods and how long they should remain in either the refrigerator or freezer.  Below is a handy chart from the FDA that you can print out for handy reference. 

Food storage

Do older adults still need to take a complete multi-vitamin?
Believe it or not, most oder adults don’t need to take a complete multi-vitamin, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).  If you think that you’re not eating enough or making the best food choices, talk with your doctor.  For sure, as we get older our bodies don’t need “mega” doses of vitamins and minerals, and the NIA points out that in some cases too much can be harmful.  Again, talking with your doctor is a safe way to go. Be sure to to ask about the vitamins and minerals you take, in combination with your other medications and overall health.

Fast Facts

Mg of Calcium Needed Daily - Women 51+ (NIH)

Mg Calcium Needed Daily - Men 51-70 (NIH)

Mg Sodium Limit Daily - NIA

Mcg Vitamin B12 Needed Daily


Vitamin B12 and veggies, berries, cherries, walnuts and fish boost memory and brain function…eat up!


Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and is linked to muscle weakness, falls and arthitis in elderly.(ISCD)


Beans (legumes) are incredibly important predictors of survival in older people (NutritionFacts.org)

Now What?

Tools & Resources at Your Fingertips

Take Action

Learn from others and Make Your Own Plans

Start by exploring Common Questions and answers that address difficulties others faced and how to deal with them.  Then, take advantage of the many resources available to you.  Select the tips and eating plans that fit your needs. And, locate resources for helping with food costs and ways to save money on limited budgets. 

What is a balanced diet?

Have fun with this interactive guide with key food sources for a healthy diet.

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