My Place Blog and Podcast

Appetite for change: Eating well for aging well

Appetite for change: Eating well for aging well

You grab a little something from the cupboard because you don’t feel like cooking for one. You may have skipped a meal to stretch your dollar. Or, to avoid the effort of grocery shopping, you make do with cheese and crackers.

As you age, your body changes. You may see a difference in your strength when opening a jar or climbing the stairs. You run a few errands and you’re tired. Or maybe you have to cut back on your activity level, requiring fewer calories than you once did. Yet your nutritional needs may stay the same or even increase with age.

This blog provides some tips to help you eat well and live well in the place you call home. You’ll also find links to resources on the My Place CT website that offer options to fill your plate with foods that serve you well.

The basics: Eating for good

This is a good place to start, but by no means is it comprehensive.

  • Access good food through community resources
  • Get the most nutrition bang for your buck
  • Eat fresh and shop local whenever possible
  • Eat together

Tip: Eat nutrient-dense, not calorie-rich.

On the menu: Healthy food in reach

Communities offer many ways to get good food. Yes, it’s important to know what to eat. But first you need access to the food itself. From home meal delivery to nutritional counseling to financial assistance, you can find support in your community. This includes:

As a part of the Elderly Nutrition Programs, Home Delivered Meals, often referred to as Meals on Wheels, is a vital resource for bringing well-balanced, nutritious meals to those who may be homebound or isolated. Meals are delivered to individuals aged 60 and over and their spouses as well as people with disabilities who are unable to procure or prepare a meal. For many, a home delivered meal also serves as a wellness check—a friendly face to make sure you’re okay—and that builds self-sufficiency and independent living.

Need some help grocery shopping? Most communities provide access to Friendly Shoppers who accompany you to the grocery store or do your shopping for you.

What was called Food Stamps, now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helps individuals and their families afford the cost of food at supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Tip: Precut, prewashed bagged vegetables are ready when you are.

Many grocery stores feature hot meals to go that include an entrée and vegetable. Complete your meal with fresh fruits, such as pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon available in bite-size chunks and ready-to-eat. It’s a perfect way to bring flavor, color and convenience to your table.

Home grocery delivery makes it easier to eat healthy. Options include:

  • Peapod, the country’s leading online grocery delivery, available throughout Connecticut as well as 23 other markets.
  • Instacart, a same-day grocery service available in select markets in the U.S.
  • AmazonFresh lets you shop for groceries, personal care products and household items. Membership is required.

Feel better

Healthy eating lowers the risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease while reducing the likelihood of depression by 34%.

Source: Gallup, May 2017

Get fresh for less

The appeal of local, flavorful fruits, vegetables and herbs makes eating healthy and pleasurable. Even if medications dampen your appetite, an in-season bounty of farm fresh foods can make all the difference.

Funded by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) and the USDA, the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program brings affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to communities all over Connecticut. The program provides check booklets in either $15 or $18 amounts for people who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and those over age 60 who meet specific age and income requirements. With these checks, you can purchase Connecticut Grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets throughout the state.

Some farmers’ markets also allow you to use your SNAP benefits to buy Connecticut farm products. Farmers’ markets accepting SNAP may even double or triple your benefits! The best way to find out is to contact your local farmers’ market.

Peggy Zamore, a Public Health Nutritionist who coordinates healthy eating workshops at the Danbury Farmers’ Market, knows firsthand the positive impact food can have on health and wellness. Zamore is an advocate of financial incentives that make fresh food more accessible. “It’s a great way to get people to try something new. And who doesn’t like a discount?”

“It’s not enough to tell someone what to eat. You give people the money to buy good food.”

There are 113 farmers’ markets in Connecticut. So on any given day of the week in season, there’s a farmers’ market to satisfy your appetite for Connecticut Grown goodness. Come meet the farmers who grow the fruits and vegetables you put on plate—handpicked by you. In addition, you may pick up a new recipe, learn a cooking tip or try a free sample. Yum!

Tip: Good company, good meal.

Food brings people together

If you would like some company at mealtime, Senior Cafés, a part of the Elderly Nutrition Programs, serve nourishing meals in a congregate setting once a day at over 200 locations throughout Connecticut. This may include your local Senior Center as well as schools, churches and elderly housing facilities.

Some communities in Connecticut provide an opportunity for you to dine out with family or friends at local restaurants with the help of Senior Dine. What’s on the menu? Healthy, multiple course meals at discount rates. Available at participating restaurants in Waterbury, Meriden, Torrington and 27 surrounding Connecticut towns.

In addition, your place of worship may host regularly scheduled coffee hours, dinner socials and seasonal festivals. It’s a good opportunity to get out and get social.

Tip: Don’t wait to get thirsty. Drink unsweetened beverages, including water to stay hydrated.

Healthy Swaps

Here are some healthy substitutions for some everyday foods. See how simple changes, can make a difference in your health and well-being.

1. Whole grains, instead of white flour products

2. Unsweetened canned fruits instead of fruits in light or heavy syrup

3. Plain yogurt instead of sweetened yogurt

4. Lean meats instead of fatty meats

5. Dark leafy greens instead of light greens

6. Skim milk instead of whole milk

Eating a meal is one of life’s simplest pleasures. It’s also one of the most important, impacting your health and well-being. With a little help, you can eat in the way that nourishes your quality of life.

 

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