Smart Snacking and Drinking for Better Health in Later Years

by Cynthia Germain

It goes without saying that as we get older, it’s really important to eat well and drink enough fluids. Good nutrition and staying hydrated can help you feel energetic, healthy, and active. But sometimes, eating and drinking enough can be difficult because of changes in appetite and sense of taste as we age. In addition, large meals can be overwhelming and unappealing.

Breaking meals into smaller, more frequent snacks can help ensure that nutritional needs are met without all the fuss of a heavy meal. Here are some tips on how to incorporate healthy snacks throughout the day:

  • Mid-Morning Boost: A small snack between breakfast and lunch can help maintain energy levels. This could be a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or a small yogurt.
  • Afternoon Pick-Me-Up: An afternoon snack can help keep blood sugar levels stable and ward off fatigue. Consider options like a slice of toast with a spread, a small salad, or a few cheese slices with crackers.
  • Evening Nourishment: A light snack in the evening can help prevent hunger during the night. This might include carrots or celery with a dip, a small bowl of soup, or a few slices of meat or bites of fish.

By spreading out food intake throughout the day, older adults can avoid feeling overly full at any one time and ensure they are getting the necessary nutrients to support their health.

Staying hydrated is crucial at any age, but it becomes even more essential as we grow older. Dehydration can lead to a host of health issues, including urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and even confusion. While water is the best choice for hydration, there are other beverages that can also contribute to fluid intake and provide additional health benefits:

  • Herbal Teas: Herbal teas are a great way to stay hydrated while also enjoying a variety of flavors. They are typically caffeine-free and can offer benefits such as relaxation and improved digestion.
  • Milk: Whether dairy or plant-based, milk provides essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone health. Sensitivity to lactose is often an issue as we age and fortunately there are a lot of great lactose-free options of not just white but chocolate milk.
  • Fruit Juices: While fruit juices should be consumed in moderation due to their sugar content, they can be a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. Opt for 100% juice without added sugars and consider diluting with water to reduce sugar intake.
  • Broths and Soups: These are excellent options for hydration, especially for those who might struggle to drink enough water. They also offer the added benefit of nutrients from vegetables, meat, or beans.

Older adults should aim to drink regularly throughout the day rather than waiting until they feel thirsty, as the sense of thirst can diminish with age. Consider starting the day with a glass a water to kickstart good hydration. Be sure to have a glass of water or other with each meal and snack. Having a bottle of water handy and setting an alarm or mobile app reminder on your phone can be helpful to be consistent.

Eating and drinking properly is vital to healthy aging. By breaking meals into smaller, manageable snacks and incorporating a variety of beverages, older adults can better meet their nutritional needs. Maintaining a routine and staying mindful of hydration can make a significant difference in your health and quality of life.