Many people are surprised by how much eating changes as they get older. Not only do we need fewer calories as we age (due to slower metabolisms), but also our bodies need more of certain nutrients and so crave foods with a high nutritional value. When you’re at home and have access to your refrigerator and cooking supplies, it’s easier to make sensible choices at meal times. But what about when you’re traveling, running errands, or hopping between appointments? If you’re concerned about eating healthy on the go, check out our tips for seniors below.
Eating Healthy on the Go
Read the Nutrition Facts label.
If you aren’t eating fresh food (like fruits, veggies, or nuts), be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label of the processed food you purchase. What is the serving size? How many calories are in each serving? Based on the Daily Value percentages, is the product high or low in an individual nutrient? According to the FDA, many seniors don’t get enough dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, or potassium, so be sure to keep an eye out for these nutrients.
Pick protein-packed snacks.
If your diet doesn’t include enough protein, you may suffer from muscle loss and weakness. So when you need a healthy snack or a quick lunch, think about protein first. Meat can be difficult to find and consume on the go (plus, some seniors find it hard to chew), so instead consider options like the following:
- Nuts and seeds
- Peanut butter (or another nut butter)
- Yogurt (look for a low-sugar option in a squeeze tube)
- Hard-boiled egg
Trail mix is a great option because you can combine high-protein nuts and seeds with whole grains (such as whole-grain Cheerios) and a sweet treat (like raisins, dried cranberries, or dried bananas). Just be sure to watch your portion size! Nuts are quite high in calories.
Focus on fruits and vegetables.
Once you’ve thought about protein, your next step is to add in some fruits and vegetables. Due to dentures and other oral issues, some seniors find certain produce difficult to chew (including raw carrots, apples, and corn on the cob). You may wish to stick with softer and more accessible options like berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. You could add the berries to yogurt, and the other options go well with hummus.
Keep a list of your favorite options.
Sometimes the hardest part of eating healthy on the go is simply coming up with ideas that you love. If you’re struggling to think of nutritious and healthy snack ideas, here are a few options for you:
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Cheese and crackers
- Granola bars (be sure to check the Nutritional Label, as many aren’t as healthy as you’d think)
- Trail mix
- A handful of nuts
- Smoothie with fruits and vegetables
- Fruit cups (packed in their own juice)
- String cheese sticks
- Whole-wheat tortilla chips and salsa
- Edamame sprinkled with sea salt and sesame oil
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Sliced veggies and hummus
- Cottage cheese and fruit
- Whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter or avocado
- Frozen grapes or a frozen banana
- Whole-grain popcorn
Try to create a list of your preferred on-the-go healthy options so that you’re never at a loss for what to eat.
Research the nutrition information of menu items at fast food chains.
Finally, sometimes when you’re driving to and fro, the best option at lunchtime is to stop off at a fast food joint. Although it may be tempting to splurge on a calorific menu item, try to exercise self-control and choose an option with some actual nutritional value. Because seemingly healthy items like salads can sometimes feature surprisingly high calorie counts, you’ll be most prepared if you do some quick online research before you pull into the drive-thru lane. For example, Eat This, Not That! asked nutrition experts what they would order at McDonald’s and they recommended the Egg McMuffin sandwich, the Grilled Chicken BLT sandwich, the Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait, and several of the salad options that feature grilled chicken.
Eating healthy on the go is always a bit tricky. To set yourself up for success, always keep some healthy options on hand that are easy to transport. In addition, be kind to yourself when you slip up – no one’s perfect!
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please give us a call at 901-266-3329 or contact us online.