25 Best Nutrition Tips for Older Adults

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

These simple strategies will help you shop smarter, nourish your body, cut extra calories, and indulge wisely.

SilverSneakers 25 Best Nutrition Tips

Good health starts with good nutrition. And just like there’s no right way to get fit, there’s no right way to eat better. The key is finding strategies you can make part of your daily life.

We asked the SilverSneakers community for food strategies that work. Here are your best nutrition tips for shopping smarter, nourishing your body, cutting extra calories, and indulging wisely.

1. Keep 7 Simple Words in Mind

“I like [food writer Michael Pollan’s] seven-word rule for nutrition: ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’”—Joyce Lunz

2. Or Even Just 4 Words

“Better choices, moderate portions.”—Sandra Gamier

3. Try an Old Way of Eating

“The Mediterranean diet.”—Judith Stein

Historically, cultures that lived around the Mediterranean Sea had diets that were high in fruits and vegetables but low in meat and sweets. They also tended to eat more unsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil and nuts, than saturated fats. One thing to keep in mind: Even healthy foods can lead to weight gain if you don’t mind your portions.

4. Or an Expert-Created Eating Plan

“The DASH diet.”—Deborah Boatright

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan designed to lower blood pressure. It’s based on research from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but limits meat, sweets, saturated fat, and sodium.

Not sure how to choose between Mediterranean and DASH? Combine the best of both with the MIND diet, which can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent.

5. Find a Formula That Helps You Lose Weight

“I’ve cut out all fried and fast foods, and eat fresh veggies. I’ve gone from 235 to 170 pounds in about eight months.”—Larry Welch

6. And Take Control of Chronic Conditions

“I gave up all sugars, processed carbohydrates, packaged foods, and refined grains, pastas, and rice. Eat whole fruits and vegetables daily along with healthy fats and moderate proteins. This has turned my health around to the point that I am no longer type 2 diabetic nor do I have high blood pressure. I’m able to spend time with family and friends without the former health issues dragging me down.”—Russell Brooks

If that seems overwhelming, remember that making just one small change today is a great first step to manage diabetes.

7. Shop Like a Pro

“Keep a great grocery list, and make a week’s menu.”—Kathy Gowan Gerrald

Need inspiration? Check out these nine nutritionist-approved power meals.

8. Map Out Your Shopping Trip

“Do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store.”—Jill Lawrence Pribble

The key word: most. Swing around the perimeter for fresh produce and other whole foods, but pass through the inner aisles and freezer section to pick up some essentials for clean eating.

9. Know What to Stock

“Keep your pantry stocked with beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, brown rice, barley, peas, quinoa, and canned tomatoes. Always have on hand garlic, onions, celery, root veggies, and greens.”—Ann Cousineau Carrigan

Check out these seven foods you should always have in your pantry.

10. Create Your Own Microwave Meals

“I prep my meals for the week on Sunday.”—Teresa Anderson

Even if you can’t cook entire meals in advance, you can prep key foods. For example, cook a big batch of brown rice, and then use it with different veggies throughout the week.

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11. Stop Hunger Before It Stops You

“Eat before you are starving.”—Sandi Myrold Behrendt

Going too long between meals sends the message to your brain that you’re starving—which can mess up your metabolism. And when you do finally sit down to eat, you’re more likely to make less-than-healthy choices and overeat.

12. Start the Day Strong

“Have a protein shake in the morning. Mix fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables with yogurt and milk in the blender.”—Myra Scher-Pigott

Protein, which helps fight age-related muscle loss, is one of the most important nutrients for older adults.

13. Flip Your Meals

“Make your main meal for the middle of the day.”—Martie Shelhorse-Roberts

Eating a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner has been linked to a healthier weight, according to study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

14. Upgrade Your Sandwich

“My favorite is mashed avocado and sliced tomato on toast.”—Mary Kay Elia Geiger

Delicious—and good for you! Find out why avocados are one of the best foods for older adults.

15. Have a Snack Ready—Wherever Your Are

“Keep fruits and veggies prepped in the fridge. When you leave the house, always carry water and a balanced snack, such as protein and veggies or fruit.”—Sandra Lee

Get inspired with these 10 healthy snack ideas.

16. Make Over Your Comfort Food

“Sweet potatoes go in all my casseroles and pot roasts along with celery, peppers, and carrots.”—Brenda Kenfield

Sweet potatoes are perfect for hearty yet healthy meals. Bonus: They’ll help strengthen your bones.

17. Add Flavor with Herbs and Spices

“Here is my recipe for a salt-free Cajun blend. I use a small coffee grinder to pulverize:

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne or chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Keep it in a salt shaker, and sprinkle liberally in place of salt on savory dishes.”—Janet DeGras

Check out six more ways to use herbs and spices. Another great way to add flavor: marinades.

18. Treat Yourself Without Guilt

“My new favorite dessert is Greek yogurt with a scoop of chocolate protein powder and frozen blueberries or raspberries!”—Denise Camin

Or satisfy your sweet tooth with sorbet.

19. Pick a Refreshing Sip

“Make water your primary beverage, and drink plenty of it.”—Randi M. Rodd

With age, sense of thirst weakens, making it easier to get dehydrated without even knowing it. Can’t stand plain water? Jazz it up with a little cucumber, citrus, or mint.

20. Don’t Fall for the See-Food Diet

“Fill the family’s plates at the stove. Result: No overeating.”—Cheryl Trevethan

21. Slow Down and Enjoy

“Chew every bite 20 times.”—Adelhaid Olivier

You’ll give your body time to recognize when you’re full. Plus, you’ll be able to appreciate the flavor of your food and enjoy conversation with any company. It makes for a more satisfying dining experience.

22. Make Restaurant Trips Count

“When we eat out, we indulge on food that we can’t make at home. Eat whatever you like—once in a while.”—Haidi Tate

23. Get Creative with the Menu

“I try to get senior portions when I go out. When it’s fast food, I opt for the children’s menu.”—Connie Wallner Peterson

24. Go Halfsies

“Share meals and cookies.”—Temple Pearson

25. Discourage Late-Night Binges

“Brush your teeth early in the evening, and use mouthwash. Nighttime snacking isn’t quite so inviting.”—Susan Howe

Get More Great Tips!

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