Canada’s new Food Guide: 7 tips on healthy eating habits for seniors
Canada’s new Food Guide* is refreshingly different because of its emphasis on healthy eating behaviours and enjoyment of food, and evidence-based advice rather than narrow dietary prescriptions. The new guidelines have the flexibility to be adapted to many different diets, cultures, tastes and cuisines. The Guide has come a long way since the 1944 version that advised consuming at least one serving of potatoes, having many slices of bread with butter, and guzzling milk every day,* according to The Globe and Mail.

Healthy eating and aging well

For older adults, the encouraging message is healthy eating can help you stay strong and protect against fragility, which are important to maintain your independence and quality of life.

1. Eat well and reduce health risks. Healthy eating can help seniors maintain a healthy weight, provide essential energy and nutrients, and prevent, lower the risk or slow the progression of chronic illnesses like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.*

2. Adapt to changes in aging. These changes may affect appetite, sense of taste or smell, or ability to chew or swallow.* Add different herbs and spices rather than salt to enhance flavours, and choose foods with softer textures, such as soups and cooked rather than raw vegetables, to make eating easier.

3. Eat more plant-based protein foods. The emphasis is on consuming more protein from plant-based foods like beans, lentils and nuts,* and less from animal-based foods like milk, meat and poultry.

4. Focus on proportions, not portions. The new guide shows a plate, half covered with fruits and vegetables, and the other half divided into whole grains and proteins.* Rather than prescribing specific portion sizes, it gives you the freedom and flexibility to make specific food choices to get the balance right.

5. Enjoy meals with others. Eating alone can lead to loss of appetite for seniors.* Eating with others makes meals more sociable, which may encourage you to spend more time enjoying a meal, eat larger amounts and take in more nutrients.
 
6. Drink water first. Your sense of thirst may decline with aging. Drinking water regularly promotes hydration* and helps limit consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol.

7. Be mindful. Pay attention to the aromas, textures and tastes of foods.* This can help you to be more conscious of what you’re eating, make healthier choices and savour the flavours of meals and snacks.  

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers residents nutritious, tasty and balanced meals that can be enjoyed alongside friends, so eating well is part of living well


*The following sources provided references for this blog, in order of appearance:

1. Government of Canada. “Canada’s Food Guide.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
2. The Globe and Mail. “Canada’s new food guide puts common sense back on the table.” (2019), online: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-canadas-new-food-guide-puts-common-sense-back-on-the-table/
3. Government of Canada. “Healthy eating for seniors.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/seniors/
i4. Government of Canada. “Healthy eating for seniors.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/seniors/
5. Government of Canada. “Eat protein foods.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-protein-foods/
6. Government of Canada. “Eat a variety of heathy foods each day.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
7. Government of Canada. “Eat meals with others. (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/eat-meals-with-others/#section-4
8. Government of Canada. “Make water your drink of choice.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-water-your-drink-of-choice/
9. Government of Canada. “Be mindful of your eating habits.” (2019), online: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/be-mindful-of-your-eating-habits/