1. Decrease sugar intake, even if you are not a diabetic! Excess sugar can contribute to obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, depressed mood, and has even been linked to dementia - just to name a few. Sugar is sneaky and in SO many items we would not expect. Did you know there is 1 teaspoon of ADDED sugar in the average serving of jarred spaghetti sauce? Read those nutrition labels and look for “Grams of Added Sugar” to be zero.
2. Get plenty of rest! The importance of good quality sleep has historically been underestimated. Older adults still need a minimum of 7-8 hours per night. Don’t be afraid to rest during the day too - follow your body’s cues.
3. Stay active! It sounds cliché, but the truth is too many Americans do not get enough physical activity. Staying active can help you sleep better and more soundly, crave less sugar and recover from injuries faster. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day. If that is too much, break it up into 5-10 minute segments and try to increase your goal by a minute or two every week.
4. Drink more water! Everyone’s needs are different, but aiming for 8-10 glasses of plain water per day is still a good place to start, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Flavor it up by infusing with fruit. (My personal favorite is adding a slice of orange and one sliced strawberry.)
5. Eat MORE good quality protein and MORE vegetables! Eating just one extra serving of mixed vegetables a day can provide over 150 grams of fiber in a single month! With the rising cost of food, remember that frozen vegetables are a GREAT choice.
6. Stay social and connected! According to an article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, loneliness could be the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes A DAY to our health. Call a friend or family member RIGHT NOW!
7. Monitor your weight! If you notice unplanned gains or losses, call your doctor’s office. Both could be a sign something is not right.
It’s never too late to make positive changes. Which step will you make today?
Karen Meyer, RDLD
Nutritionist, Stonehill Communities
Resources: WebMD, AARP, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Perspectives on Psychological Science