Nutrition for elders: 75 and up Print

Healthy Eating in Your 70’s

By Andrea Holwegner, Calgary Herald  November 11, 2010

healthy eating for seniors over 70 years of age

The good news is that it is never too late to begin changes to your nutrition and lifestyle to help improve your health.

If you’re in your mid-70s and onward, you can boost the vitality and energy with which to enjoy your golden years by focusing on the following key areas.

Top 4 nutrition challenges for age 70 and beyond

1. Overcoming loneliness

Have you ever noticed that, regardless of age, you often eat better when you are with family or friends than when you’re alone? The conversation around the dinner table can help overcome feelings of loneliness or boredom.

Eating with others can also help ensure you are eating a wide variety of foods rather than getting stuck in a rut. You may also find that social meals help boost your motivation to plan nutritious meals or eat comfort foods to overcome a loss of appetite.

Social meals such as Sunday brunch or Friday night supper are a good time to cook extra for leftovers or, alternatively, just cook one component to a meal if it’s a potluck. If you are not able to cook your own meals, eating with friends or family can also help to improve the quality of your eating experience.

2. Tackling digestion issues

Over time, as your appetite declines and calories shrink, you may be taking in less overall food, which can drop your fibre intake. If your physical activity has decreased, you may be experiencing the discomfort of constipation. Be sure to keep as active as possible, since walking and other forms of physical activity keep your bowels regular.

Drinking enough fluids such as water, tea and milk also helpsreduce constipation.

Experts recommend an adequate intake for fibre for people aged 70 years and up is 21 grams per day for females and for 30 grams per day for males.

Foods rich in fibre include bran-based cereals and other whole grains, beans and legumes, berries and other fruits or veggies, and nuts and seeds.

3. Addressing medical concerns

According to the Canadian Health Measures Survey, 54 per cent of those aged 60 to 79, have high total cholesterol levels and 53 per cent have high blood pressure. And in those aged 65 and older, 22.1 per cent of men and 14.8 per cent of women have diabetes.

The Canadian Cancer Society reports that 43 per cent of new cancer cases a will occur among those who are at least 70 years old.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation suggests that osteoporosis affects one in four women and more than one in eight men over the age of 50 years.

Here are your most important nutrition tips to help tackle those medical issues:

Boost your fruit and vegetable intake. People over age 51 years need seven servings per day. One serving is cup (125ml) of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit, 1 cup (250ml) of leafy greens, cup (125 mL) unsweetened juice or one piece of fruit.

Include more beans and legumes as well as higher fibre grains such as whole grain bread, barley, oats, brown or wild rice, bran-based cereals and whole wheat pasta.

Get enough calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods (consider supplements if needed).

Reduce your intake of saturated fats coming from high-fat meats, tropical oils and high-fat dairy products. Eliminate your intake of trans fats from foods containing hydrogenated oils such as deep fried foods, commercially baked goods and hydrogenated margarine.

Incorporate healthier fats from fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and other vegetable oils.

Reduce your intake of added sugars from candy, sweets and other high-sugar foods.

Choose lower sodium foods and remove the salt shaker from the dinner table.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderate amounts.

4. Boosting calcium,vitamin D and vitamin B12

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, approximately 80 per cent of men and women aged 71 or older get fewer than two servings of milk products a day. Not consuming three servings of milk (or milk alternatives such as fortified soy milk, cheese or yogurt) or not consuming enough calcium supplements can greatly increase your risk of osteoporosis and may increase colon cancer and high blood pressure among other issues.

If you consume fewer than three servings of calcium-rich foods such as 1 cup (250 mL) milk or fortified soy milk, cup (175 mL) yogurt and 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of cheese, you need to consider calcium supplements.

Vitamin D is important for bone health, cancer reduction and more. To achieve an optimal amount, consume vitamin D-rich foods such as milk and fatty fish and take a vitamin D supplement.

Health Canada recommends all adults over 50 take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day; Osteoporosis Canada recommends daily supplements of 800 to 2,000 IU for the same age group, while the Canadian Cancer Society recommends Canadians take in 1,000 IU of vitamin D every day.

After the age of 70, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 – which you need to form DNA, make healthy blood cells and keep nerves working properly declines.

Health Canada advises adults over 50 to consume foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a supplement containing vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal-based foods such as eggs, dairy, meat, seafood and poultry and some fortified foods such as soy milk and soy-based meat substitutes.

Be sure to have your doctor check your blood levels. A low level of vitamin B12 can cause pernicious anemia and requires vitamin B12 shots.

Although supplements will never replace a balanced diet, taking an age-appropriate multivitamin each day can top up your intake of other key nutrients needed for long-term health.

To download a menu for elders 75 and up click here:   Nutrition for Elders Sample Menu

Breakfast Fruit Sauce

This fruit sauce is great on pancakes or with yogurt/cottage cheese.

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com).

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

1/4¼ cup (50 mL) sugar

2 tbsp (25 mL) Birds Custard Powder or cornstarch

2 cups (500 mL) fresh/frozen fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, skinless peaches or nectarines

Stir together water, sugar and custard powder/cornstarch in a microwave safe bowl or pot. Add berries. Heat in the microwave or a pot, stirring regularly until thick.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: calories 96, carbohydrates 24 g, protein 1 g, fat 0 g, dietary fibre 2 g.

Creamy cauliflower soup

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com).

1 large onion, diced

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

1.5 lbs (750 g) head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 carrot, peeled and chopped into small pieces

4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup (250 mL) skim/1% milk

1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne (or more/less depending on how spicy you like it!)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh or dried dill (optional)

In a soup pot, saute onions in butter/margarine until soft.

Add the cauliflower, carrot and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Remove soup from heat and cool until warm.

Place soup in a blender/food processor, add milk, and puree until smooth. (You may have to do this in batches due to the large quantity).

Place soup back in the pot and reheat. Add seasonings and more milk if the soup is too thick.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: calories 104, carbohydrates 13 g, protein 8 g, fat 3 g, dietary fibre 3 g.

Baked Zucchini Sticks

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com).

3 medium zucchinis, cut into 3 inch (7.5 cm) long and 1/2 in. (1 cm) wide sticks (peel on)

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried bread crumbs

1/2 cup (50 mL) Parmesan cheese

1 tsp (5 mL) garlic powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) Italian seasoning (or mix of dried oregano, thyme & basil)

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)

Beat eggs lightly in a bowl, set aside.

In another bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, seasoning and black pepper.

Coat zucchini sticks by dipping them first in the egg, then rolling them in the breadcrumbs.

Place in a single layer on a sprayed baking sheet.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned, turning once halfway through.

Makes 60 sticks.

Nutrition information per serving (about 5 sticks): calories 46, carbohydrates 5 g, protein 3 g, fat 2 g, fibre 1 g.

Black bean soup

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com).

1 tbsp (15 mL) oil

1 large onion, diced

1 cup (250 mL) ham, diced (optional)

1 19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 19 oz (540 mL) can stewed tomatoes, blended in food processor/blender

1 cup (250 mL) frozen corn

1/4 cup (50 mL) brown rice, uncooked

4 cups (1 L) water

1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice

2 tsp (10 mL) brown sugar

1 to 4 tsp (5 to 20 mL) hot pepper sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin

1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground ginger

In a large pot cook onion and ham (if you’re using the ham) in oil until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour or until rice is tender.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: calories 271, carbohydrates 44 g, protein 16 g, fat 5 g, dietary fibre 9 g.

5 layer dinner casserole

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com)

2 cups (500 mL) lean ground beef

2 cups (500 mL) sliced potatoes

2 cups (500 mL) chopped celery or carrots

1 cup (250 mL) sliced onion

2 cups (500 mL) stewed tomatoes, crushed

1/2 tsp (2 mL) sugar

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper and salt

Brown meat in a saucepan until cooked. Drain it in strainer and rinse with hot/boiling water. In a casserole dish or crock pot, layer potatoes, celery/carrots, onion, beef and tomatoes. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper. Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 2 hours or until done in your crock pot. This meal tastes best when cooked slow over a long time.

Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: calories 353, carbohydrates 32 g, protein 24 g, fat 14 g, dietary fibre 4 g.

Old fashioned Gingerbread Cake

Serve with applesauce and frozen vanilla yogurt for a delightful lower-fat dessert.

Recipe from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. (healthstandnutrition.com).

2 tbsp (25 mL) melted butter/margarine

1/3 cup (75 mL) firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (125 mL) buttermilk

2 cups (500 mL) all purpose flour

1 tsp (7 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (7 mL) ground ginger

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1 tbsp (15 mL) instant coffee granules

1 cup (250 mL) hot water

1/2 cup (125 mL) molasses

1/2 cup (125 mL) honey

2 oz. (60 mL) jar pureed prunes (baby food)

Combine butter/margarine, brown sugar, eggs and buttermilk in a bowl.

Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt into another bowl.

Dissolve coffee granules in hot water and then stir in molasses, honey and pureed prunes. Add flour mixture alternately with coffee mixture to egg mixture. Batter will be lumpy, do not over mix. Pour batter into a 9 inch (23 cm) square pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake 40 to 45 minutes at 350°F. (180°C) Serve with applesauce and vanilla frozen yogurt

Makes 9 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: calories 297, carbohydrates 62 g, protein 5 g, fat 4 g, dietary fibre 1 g.

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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