Stories around the table after a hearty meal. Evening dinners with a spouse or best friend. Special celebrations at scintillating restaurants. Birthday parties and holiday gatherings. Many of life’s most pleasurable moments are centered around food. As we age, our need for this camaraderie and the joy these life events bring doesn’t change, although our nutritional needs do. So it’s important to understand how making healthy choices now puts us on the path to enjoying those special moments large and small for many years to come.
After the age of about 40, our bodies gradually need fewer calories (energy) to function efficiently and to fuel our daily activities. Some estimate that our need decreases by about 100 calories per decade from age 40 on, meaning that if we need 2200 calories to fuel our activities when we are 35, we may need as few as 1900 when we are 65. Concurrently, though, our body’s ability to maintain muscle and bone decreases, and needs the crucial support of nutrients such as protein, calcium and B vitamins.
Simple ways to maintain bone and muscle strength include increasing the nutrient density of the foods we choose and staying physically active. When we choose protein- and calcium-rich foods, we’re helping our muscles and bones to stay strong. However, we may have a decreased sense of taste, meat can be hard to chew, and dairy products can cause digestive problems. To fight against some of these difficulties, we can add stealth sources of these necessary nutrients to foods we regularly eat and enjoy. Use nut butters in oatmeal or on toast at breakfast – almonds have both protein and calcium. Add milk powder to mashed potatoes or cream soups. Use beans in salads or add hard cheeses like parmesan, which are easiest to digest, to eggs. All of these items add protein and/or calcium without adding volume or significantly increasing calories. Finally, be as active as possible. Thirty minutes of moderate activity is recommended, and this can be broken down into smaller increments. Walking, doing chores, or completing sitting exercises with resistance bands all count!
Here’s a great recipe for a protein- and nutrient-packed summer favorite.
Tomato, Chickpea and Avocado Salad
- Prep: 10 Min
- Total: 10 Min
- Yield: 4 servings
- 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 15 grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 small avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
In medium mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion and parsley. Add avocado; toss gently. Serve with a sprinkle of feta cheese over the top.
Brought to you by your friends at Churchman Village and The Atrium at Churchman Village. For more information about our independent living community, please call 302-998-6900 or visit www.ChurchmanVillage.com. We’re located on the CMS 5-Star Churchman Village Campus, 4949 Ogletown Stanton Road, Newark, DE. For more great nutrition ideas visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at eatright.org.