Author Archives: alvi

Fighting Obesity With a Healthy Balanced Diet

It has become common knowledge that obesity is a problem in North America. The newspapers, magazines, television commercials and internet banners all acknowledge the issue. It is not uncommon to see advertisements encouraging membership in diet programs where you can lose those extra pounds in a short time. Marketers have even responded by providing 90-100 calorie pre-packaged snacks ranging from almonds to cookies. Others are telling us to walk it off, and some are encouraging the latest fad diet. It seems that everywhere we look there is someone, somewhere trying to fix our personal weight problem.

Is obesity an issue?

Yes, in more ways than we can imagine. It is not simply a matter of having extra weight. Being overweight or obese triggers many health related situations.

Obese Canadians are 4 times more likely to have diabetes, 3.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 56% more likely to have heart disease than those that have healthy weights (1). Throughout North America there are reports relating obesity to heart disease, and diabetes. There are other symptoms that are often ignored by the media but are also troubling. I personally know a lady who experienced severe pain in her feet. The extra 60 pounds she had gained caused a problem with her arches, her feet became “flat” and normal daily activities became a burden. These types of poor health symptoms affect everyone in our communities. Government run health programs become more expensive to operate, families struggle with the emotional side of disease, un-wellness and even death.

Surely you have heard that the rate of overweight and obesity are on the rise. Currently 30.6% of Americans (US), 24.2% of Mexicans and 14.3% of Canadians are obese (2). Compare these rates to those of Japan and South Korea where obesity is only at 3.2% of the population (2). That should trigger two things in your mind. First of all, something that we are doing in North America is causing great negative effects on our optimal health. Second, if there are other nations in the world with lower rates of obesity, then obesity can be controlled in North America as well.

Is there any pattern to obesity in North America?

The acknowledgment of obesity, income levels, sense of failure and lack of physical activities are patterns associated with obesity. Sharon Brady, editor of The World is a Kitchen, believes that the first problem to obesity is that a large portion of individuals are simply not facing the fact that they are overweight whether it is through ignorance, denial or indifference (3). Obesity is also disproportionally found in lower income groups (4). This may be a consequence of buying low nutrient, highly processed foods because of the low dollar values. Another possible problem with weight gain and obesity is the sense of failure that comes with cheating or falling off fad diets. A lack of physical activity or even decreased activities levels associated with changes in lifestyle can also be problematic patterns.

How can we fix the problem of obesity?

Dealing with the way we think about food and our body weight is critical. Information on the mind-body connection is readily available. Understanding and addressing mental and emotional stress is of paramount importance when you want to lose weight (5).

Increasing physical activity is recommended and the Government of Canada has published guides for different age groups (6). Activity can come in many forms, even taking a family holiday can be a way to get moving again.

However, even with a good food mindset and increased physical activity, it will be hard to obtain and maintain a healthy weight without a clear understanding of healthy balanced meals and healthy eating. Regardless of your food choice preferences, vegan, vegetarian, raw or a more traditional meat diet, it is important to make sure you are eating properly. And believe it or not, that is a simple thing to do.

The things we need to consider are:

1. Water

2. Healthy Snacks

3. Protein

4. Dairy and Alternatives

5. Complex Carbohydrates

6. Healthy Fats

7. Fruits and Vegetables

Well, now after saying it is simple, I give you a list of seven things to remember. Trust me, before you know it, the list will become engrained in your thought pattern and you will be on your way to eating healthy balanced meals and optimal health which will result in a natural maintainable weight. Let me guide you through the list.

Water

There has been a lot of concern about plastic water bottles littering our disposal sites and being found floating in the ocean. I agree that it is a problem but the good thing is that it means people are becoming aware of the importance of water and they are drinking more of it.

60 to 70% of our body is water. It is important for normal body functions, like digesting the food we eat. We get water from the fluids we drink as well as the food we eat.

It is recommended that we drink 8 cups of water a day. Even more is required if you live in a dry or hot climate or are physically active. That seems like a lot of water, and it is if you try to drink it all at once. Try drinking a cup first thing in the morning before you even get into the shower. Have a glass or two before every meal and another midway in between meals and a glass in the evening too. Before you know it, you have reached 8 cups of water.

Many people have lost the ability to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. Unfortunately food often wins out and water is left aside. Next time you feel hungry have a glass of water first. Wait for a few minutes to see if the hunger goes away before you eat. If you feel thirsty, you body is already dehydrated. You may need to add more cups of water for your personal lifestyle.

Snacks

For many of us, the word snack triggers the thought of a high calorie, low nutrient food. A good way to think of a snack is like a mini-meal that gets us through to the next meal. It is the opportunity to pick a healthy food that you enjoy but may not part of your meal on that day. One of my all time favorites are apples. If I did not have an apple for breakfast and know I will not have one for lunch, having one for my morning snack, along with my cup of water makes a great healthy snack.

Snacking is critical for children. They get a large portion of their daily calories from snacking and it is important that they get healthy snacks.

Protein, Dairy and Alternatives

Protein comes in many forms and this is often where diet styles differ. No matter what you food style preference is having protein in your meals is important.

Proteins can be found in beans, eggs, meats, fish, milk, cheese, nuts and seeds, soy products including tofu. In North America, having large amounts of protein has become standard. I have seen some restaurants where the smallest steak available is 14 oz and where ordering fish means an entire fish. Having such large amounts of protein is not necessary for your body. Protein is important but it does not have to dominate the meal.

There is much debate over the presence of milk in our diets. Some individuals prefer soy milk and almond milk. The goal with drinking these products is to obtain calcium. Calcium is available through tablet form and naturally occurs in fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are our comfort foods. When we consume them, serotonin is produced and leaves us with that “warm fuzzy feeling.” These foods are best for our bodies when they are closest to their natural state. You will recognize them as breads, crackers, pasta, rice and beans. To obtain the maximum health from your foods, decide on products that are made of whole grains rather than white enriched flours. If you like rice, add brown rice to your diet. It takes longer to cook but you will not be hungry half an hour after you finish your meal.

Healthy Fats

The first thing many people do when they attempt to reduce their weight is to remove all the fat from their diet. Eating a lot of fat is not healthy but the body does need small amounts of healthy fats to function normally. Healthy fats occur naturally in the healthy foods that we eat. Avocados, salmon and other fish, nuts and olive oil all contain fats that are healthy for our body.

Fruits and Vegetables

The number of fruits and vegetables that are available is absolutely amazing. They should make up the majority or your diet and when you can eat them raw, I encourage you to do so. When you make your meal, add lots of color by using a variety of fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the better chance of getting everything your body needs.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aid indigestion. They help keep our bodies healthy, protect us from disease, strengthen our bones and make our skin beautiful. Consider them for your snack.

What is Next?

Well, now you have an idea of the important aspects of creating a healthy balanced meal. Pick a food from each category and several from the fruits and vegetables. These will be the ingredients for your meal.

An example of a traditional style meal could be fish for your protein (but not an entire fish), some brown rice, and a large salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries and sesame seeds. For a healthy snack after dinner, try a fruit salad made with three of your favorite fruits.

That is how simple making a healthy balanced meal can be when you have a little information.

What Difference will this make?

Eating healthy balanced meals will allow you to lose weight naturally. At first you will still have cravings for the heavily processed products that you ate in the past. Eventually you will replace those without even thinking about it. You weight will reduce naturally and you will be able to maintain a healthy weight.

There is no cheating with eating healthy balanced meals because you are making the decisions for you diet. If you have potato chips tonight just acknowledge how it makes your body feel. Next time try a nice fresh piece of pineapple with all its amazing health and healing benefits. Acknowledge how it feels. Learn to listen to your body.

Failure does not exist in a healthy balanced diet. Every time you eat a healthy balanced meal, you are moving ahead to a better healthier you.

Most importantly, you will be setting an example for your child, friends and everyone else that you come into contact with. Help make North America a healthy North America. Japan and South Korea are doing it, so can we, one meal at a time.

Essentials Of Highly Healthy People

1.0 INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION

Health is derived from the old English word “whole”. The definition of Health is intended to include those things that “make a person whole” which means more than just physical well-being.

In 1948, World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, social or relational well-being and not merely the absence or disease of infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

In 1984, WHO added spirituality to its list of factors necessary for optimum health. If we are to be truly healthy, the physical, mental and spiritual elements must be functioning as God designed them to function. The physical may be the most unimportant of the three because with good mental and spiritual health, we can still be content even though our bodies may be unhealthy.

From ancient to modern times, authoritative sources indicates that health is continually defined in terms of the physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual well-being.
Health is a major topic in the Bible and it is viewed primarily as the restoration and strengthening of one’s personal relationship with God. It is also viewed as a healthy lifestyle (physically and emotionally) that focuses on passing healthy relationships with your family and with other people.

Being highly healthy means being healthy in every area of your life during every stage of your life. It means being balanced in these areas: body, mind, spirit and community usually taken as the four “wheels” of Health. By balancing these aspects of health, you can become blessed and thus, highly healthy.

2.0 PRINCIPLES ESSENTIAL TO BEING HIGHLY HEALTHY

a. The essential of balance
b. The essential of self-care
c. The essential of forgiveness
d. The essential of reducing SADness (Stress, Anxiety and Depression)
e. The essential of relationships
f. The essential of spiritual well-being
g. The essential of positive self-image
h. The essential of discovering your destiny
i. The essential of personal responsibility and
j. The essential of empowerment
k. The essential of team work.

These are designed and programmed into the very core of our beings. It is important they are understood, learnt and applied in our daily living in order to become highly healthy.

3.0 FOUR WHEELS OF HEALTH

These wheels are likened to the four wheels of a stable car with strong spokes for each wheel all wheels in balance. They represent the:

a. physical health – the well-being of one’s body

b. emotional health – the well-being of one’s mental faculties and one’s connection with his or her various emotions.

c. relational health – the well-being of one’s association with family, colleagues and friends in the context of a community that is healthy and

d. spiritual health – the well-being of one’s relationship with God

Further indepth into them shows:

(a) The physical wheel

Maximum physical health occurs when the body with all its chemicals, parts and systems is functioning as closely as possible to the way God designed it to function. For a person to be physically healthy, disease must be prevented whenever possible and treated as needed. When illness or disorder is incurable, physical health involves learning to cope with and adapt to physical disease.

With good emotional, relational and spiritual health, a person can still be highly healthy, even though his or her body may not be “whole”.

The major determinants of physical health are the activities you engage in (exercises, walk), rest hours (sleep, relaxation, vacations, recreation). Intake into the body (water, good, and toxins) fruits and vegetables, mineral in-take of caffeine, tobacco, soft drinks, saturated fats, highly processed foods, fast food and sweets, illicit drugs, alcoholic drink, beverages); elimination (urine, stool, bowel movements).

(b) Emotional wheel

This is the state of maximum emotional and mental well-being. It is not the absence of emotional distress which is unavoidable for any imperfect human being. Being emotionally healthy requires learning to cope with and to embrace the full spectrum of human emotions each of us faces everyday throughout our lives. It requires healthy brain function. If the brain dyefunction is untreated, it becomes non-functional and throws his physical, emotional, relational and spiritual wheels out of balance. This has to do with stimulation (too hot, too cold or just right). If you experience too much or too little stimulation, if you are too busy or exceptionally bored, you are suffering from emotional health. Enough quiet is required in everyone’s life. Another aspect which is quietness (peace, tranquility in one’s soul), lack of self-worth, lack of intimacy with others, loneliness associated with accumulated grudges towards others or yourself, lack of intimacy with God are the major causes of emotional pain. Any of these lacks can lead to simmering, embittering anger towards others or yourself or God.

Life long learning is important to one’s health. As the physical exercise helps the heart, muscles and bones, stay healthy, your brain benefits from mental actuality. Continuing to educate yourself and staying mentally active are ways to protect yourself from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Regular reading, having a challenging job and participation in ongoing education is linked with sharper mind later in life. Teaching, crossword puzzles, class or church education all help the maintenance of emotional wheel.

(c) Relational Wheel

This is the state of maximum well-being in all our social relationships – those with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, co-workers, broader community. Relational stress and discord are inevitable as we interact with fellow human beings. We have to do all we can to prevent and “treat” disordered relationships. Relational wheel involves trusting people and relations, parents, children, spouse, extended family, friends and support groups.

The relationship you have with your parents plays a critical role in determining your ability to have good relationships with others. If your parents balanced love with discipline, freedom with limits, and nurture with training, and if your relationship with them when you became adult was healthy, enjoyable and affectionate, then you have a good relational health. The same with children and spouses. Our relations – sisters, brothers aunts, uncles, cousins and nephews have profound impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health.

Friends also play important role in predicting premature death and disease. People who have nobody caring for them, who do not feel close to anyone, have no one in whom to confide are likely to suffer premature death or disease more. Having friends who love, care for us with unconditional support give us powerful positive health benefits.

(d) Spiritual wheel

This is defined as the state of maximum well-being in our personal relationship with our creator. To be spiritually healthy, any separation or disharmony on our relationship with God must be prevented or treated. This is the most crucial one of all the other aspects of health.

Healthy people make their spiritual well-being a consistent priority by actively seeking to understand Gods plans and design for them in terms of their physical, emotional, relational and spiritual condition, seeking and accepting their creator’s personal instructions and direction in their lives. If the spiritual wheel is given less attention than the other three, we cannot be highly healthy while, we are not promised a perfectly healthy physical life, the Bible promises those who have a vital personal relationship with God an abundant life one that will be full and meaningful – infused with purpose, contentment and joy.

To have spiritual health, trust in God, pray and meditate and fellowship in a faith community and faith sharing.

4.0 HOW TO BECOME A HIGHLY HEALTHY PERSON

The Essential of Balance: Set a wise balance in your life – the “health car” with its four “wheels of health” cannot run smoothly without all wheels running well i.e. being in balance. Neglecting one or more of your wheels of health will result in imbalanced health problems. You cannot become a highly healthy person without first diagnosing your unique areas of disease and maintenance.

b. The Essential of Self-care: Be proactive in preventing disease.. The secret to becoming and staying highly healthy is to prevent “disease” in body, mind, spirit and in relationships as much as is possible.

i. Exercise makes you feel healthier than eating does. Regular exercise help to control weight, improve overall health, reduce risk of such medical problems as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.

ïi. Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week.

iii Exercise regularly and consistently to control your weight

iv. avoid highly processed foods.

v. eat nutritious diet and do not over eat. Eat foods with high fibre content, whole grains, nuts, sugar yogurt and low in calories, salt, saturated fats and refined sugars. Health enhancing fish is important too.

vi. drink lots of water and do not smoke.

vii. consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

viii. do not consume alcohol or tobacco products.

ix. Practice and enjoy regular sex with your legal spouse in mutually monogamous relationship.

c. The Essential of Forgiveness: Practice acceptance and letting go.

F = Forgiving is highly healthy
O = Organize your thoughts by writing
R = Review your experience
G = Give the Boot to anger and Regret
I = Invest in removing resentment
V = Victory comes in forgiving others
I = Increase your gratitude for the past pain
N = Navigate to inner place
G = Give comfort to others.

d. The Essential of Reducing SADness-stress, Anxiety and depression). Lighten your load.

1. STRESS is any change that required you to adapt or change the way you are doing something. Stress is virtually unavoidable in contemporary life. Stress can come from big things – retirement, job change, pregnancy, new baby, loss of loved one, new school, new job or from little things – change in weather, flat tyre or traffic jam, sudden deadline, misplaced house keys or an electrical outage. These events are technically called stressors. Some stress is good. We are made to withstand some amount of stress which can help us grow physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Too much stress at one single time or for too long a time usually called chronic stress can lead to weakness in all 4 of our health wheels. We are created to respond to stress in a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. When confronted with more stress than we are designed for – a large stress all at once or smaller amount of relentless.

Stress, our blood pressure and pulse increase. In the short run, this is healthy but in the long run, if the natural fight (stress) response becomes our way of life and can hurt in many ways:

ii. it can damage blood vessels and heart

iii. it can cause the body to release hormons that cause the liver to release sugar, store fat.

iv. it can cause adrenal glands to “poop out”.

v. it can cause our muscles to tense up

vi. it can increase the release of stomach acid and affect the motility of the intestine and colon leading to a variety of gastrointestinal upsets and disturbances.

vii. it can suppress the immune system – possibly making us more susceptible to infections and to certain chronic illnesses.

viii. Too much stress can and will keep you from becoming a highly healthy person.

2. ANXIETY in its most basic form is healthy – designed by our Creator to arouse us to and get us ready for action. Anxiety can prepare you physically and emotionally for a threatening situation. Anxiety is designed both to help us cope and to assist us in performing at a high level. But an anxiety disorder occurs when normal anxiety does the opposite – instead of helping you cope, it prevents you from coping and dramatically disrupts your daily life.

General anxiety disorder comes on without any trigger. People with general anxiety disorder worry about health, money, job, family or work. They are unable to relax and often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Their worries are almost accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes; nauseated, go to bathroom frequently, have palpitations or atypical chest pains, feel tired, cannot concentrate and suffer depression. This is more common in women than in men.

3. DEPRESSION weakens the emotional wheel and prevents people from becoming highly healthy. It often accompanies anxiety disorder. Depression is commonly accompanied by feeling of sadness, apathy and hopelessness as well as changes in appetite or sleep. Depression can also make it difficult for some people to concentrate. Some types of depression can be treated using modern anti-depression medications, dietary supplements, nutritional therapies, exercise, light therapy, pastoral counseling or psychotherapy. Some researchers conclude that depression is caused by an imbalance in the hormones of the brain.

4. The Essential of Relationship: Avoid loneliness. Loneliness leads to evil plans. If your brain stays idle, it becomes sick and deteriorates into the devil’s workshop and you become automatically the devils work tool. Always engage yourself in meaningful ventures.

i. live with and depend on the extended family who offer cradle to grave security and support.

ii. avoid loneliness, relationships with neighbours, family and friends are vital.

iii. respect the elders so that when they become elderly, they enjoy the admiration, honour, esteem and affection of their families and of society.

iv. Build family intimacy.

5. The Essential of spiritual well-being: Cultivate a time for spirituality.

The Bible promises that if we choose to trust God and live according to the purpose he designed for each of us or we can rely instead on our own finite plans and efforts. It promises also that if we choose God to fill and empower our very Souls, then we will develop spiritual fruit that endures, regardless of our circumstances or the state of our physical, emotional, or relational health. All the good things of life – right marriage, right job, right kids, right amount of money, right car or house or clothes can only be added to the most important element of wellness, namely, seeking, knowing, and pleasing God. If we believe in and trust God, if we make an intimate relationship with him a priority, if he controls and empowers our lives and we seek our purpose in his grand design, then we will experience wholeness at the deepest level of our being.

Spiritual healthiness ensures longer life, lower Blood pressure, improved surgical outcomes, shorter hospital stays, improved mental health, overall well-being:

i. Place your relationship with God at the centre of your life

ii. Read, memorize and meditate on Bible passages daily.

iii. Spend time on meditation and prayer daily.

6. The essential of a positive self-image: See yourself as your Creator sees you.

Our human nature is to compare ourselves to others. This results in feelings of inferiority. This is called compare and despair problem.

If your self-esteem is low, you need to do these:

i. Avoid negative self-talk

ii. Think positively

iii. Aim above the normal standard

iv. Do the things that bring joy and satisfaction

v. Serve others.

Other essentials necessary for healthy living are:

7. The Essential of Discovering Your Destiny (Nurture your hopes and dreams)
8. The Essential of Personal Responsibility (Be your own health care controller)
9. The Essential of Empowerment (Imitation is limitation as you can get to the level you wish in
your life setting your own goal for yourself).
10. The Essential of Team Work (Team up with winning health care providers)

5.0 CONCLUSION

You can decide today to live a highly healthy life having seen the methods, benefits and consequences of being healthy and not. Your destiny is in your own hands and the choice is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better.

A Dozen Healthy Weight Loss Tips

Losing weight and getting healthy is about more than just what you eat. To get healthy for a lifetime, we need to change our relationship with food and with ourselves.

When we change the focus to getting healthy instead of losing weight, we learn to really nourish ourselves both inside and out. When we are happy, healthy and eating real wholesome nutritious food, the pounds gradually disappear without a lot of struggle. It’s amazing.

Here are some of my favorite healthy weight loss tips…

1. Stock a Healthy Pantry
When the foods that support you are readily available, life is much less stressful and it is easier to make healthy choices.

2. Get Moving
A healthy life includes movement so we need to find ways to incorporate exercise and movement into our lives. Even a 10-minute walk can help to clear your mind, boost your mood, and get your circulation going. What do you enjoy and how can we make it part of your healthy life every day?

3. Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
Mom and Grandma were right! Every day more studies confirm the healing powers locked within these colorful, flavorful foods. Always be on the lookout for ways to sneak more of them into your diet. Fruit with high fiber whole grain cereal or vegetables with your eggs are two healthy ways to start the day.

4. Drink Green Tea and Plenty of Water
Green Tea is full of antioxidants. Drink several cups a day-hot or cold-and make sure you are drinking enough of water too. This helps with both digestion and elimination.

5. Take Your Vitamins
Is your body starved for nutrients? In a perfect world you would get all the nutrients you need from your diet. However, studies show that very few people do. So unless you are one of the few, a high quality multivitamin is your best insurance policy.

6. Get Plenty of Rest
The power of rest and self-care cannot be underestimated. When we take care of ourselves and indulge in self-care, we reduce stress. This leads to decreased stress hormones and improved metabolism, which are critical for overall health and healthy weight loss. Just sitting quietly and breathing for five to fifteen minutes a day can be very rejuvenating and restorative.

7. Learn to Distinguish Emotional and Physical Hunger
It is important to be able to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Many of us eat for emotional, rather than physical, reasons. To learn to manage our health and weight for life, we must be able to make this differentiation and learn other techniques for coping with our emotions.

8. Clear the Clutter
One of my main healthy weight loss tips for you is to reduce or eliminate soda, refined sugars, and overly processed foods. Following this approach can be an important step on the path to improved health. These ‘noisy’ foods provide empty calories devoid of nutrition. We want to make room for foods that provide lots of nourishment and reduce those that don’t.

9. Focus on Health and Happiness
To be healthy and happy and at our optimal weight requires more than just eating certain foods. We need a happy, healthy life that includes family and friends who support healthy social connections, satisfying work, comfort able surroundings, balance, joy, fun, and us. What makes you happy and where do you need to insert more happiness into your life?

10. Learn the Difference Between Healthy vs. Non-Healthy Fats
Not all fats are created equal. Fats are a necessary nutritional component, along with carbohydrates and proteins. They have taken a bad rap over the past couple of decades. Some fats, like saturated fats and trans fats should be avoided because they are unhealthy and contribute to heart disease. However, healthy fats like those found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, are important to optimal health.

11. Slow Down
It takes time and commitment to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. When we are over-scheduled and over-committed, it is hard to find the time required to incorporate healthy behaviors into our lives. We must free up some time and energy if we hope to transform our behaviors.

12. Develop Quick, Easy, and Simple Healthy Eating Strategies
There are lots of things we can do to streamline the process of eating healthy. Make it as simple as possible. It only takes a few minutes to boil a pot of hard boiled eggs, toss ingredients for a vegetable soup into the crock pot, or make a big batch of brown rice. With these healthy foods readily available, a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack is only minutes away.

Martha McKinnon is a health coach who believes that healthy eating and losing weight can be simple and delicious. She loves helping others who are struggling with losing weight and eating healthy lose weight and achieve their health goals by providing simple practical suggestions and ongoing guidance and support

Healthy Eating, Exercise and Lifestyle Guide For Senior Citizens

Healthy Eating and Lifestyle

While it is important for people of all ages to stay healthy, it is especially important for senior citizens to maintain healthy eating habits as well as to stay active which is important in the prevention of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. By practicing healthier living practices, senior citizens can maintain a healthy weight, avoid depression, and stay mentally sharp. Those participating in caring for the elderly should be aware of these healthy living practices and work to both encourage and facilitate them.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthy diet includes many different types of food that are rich in nutrients. They have outlined specifically what this eating plan entails at the website.. Because this eating plan is designed specifically for senior citizens, it focuses on the types of foods that are important for preventing common ailments of older Americans like obesity and serious chronic illnesses.

Healthy Eating 101:

By following some of the tips listed, senior citizens can start a healthier lifestyle today:

Don’t skip meals. It is important to eat regularly in order to maintain normal metabolism and not become tempted to eat higher fat foods when food is consumed.
Eat a diet that is high in fiber. By eating foods like whole-grain breads, beans, vegetables, and fruits, you can lower your susceptibility to diabetes and heart disease.
Senior citizens especially should begin to adjust their diet to one that includes less calories and fat because the body will need less as it ages.
Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for nutrition and keeping bones strong. You can get this by either getting in at least three servings of dairy every day, or substituting these with soy-based beverages and proteins.
Senior citizens will have a harder time absorbing adequate amounts of the B12 vitamin. For this reason, it is important to eat cereals fortified with this nutrient or taking vitamin B12 supplements with meals.
Snack the smart way. Senior citizens will want to limit the amount of unhealthy snacking they do which involves foods high in calories and sugars. Instead, keep small portions of dried fruit, peanut butter, or crackers at hand to keep the appetite under control while remaining healthy.
Drink plenty of water. Although senior citizens often feel less thirsty then they used to, it is important to stay hydrated by either drinking water or water-based beverages like tea, coffee, soup, and skim milk.

Planning and Preparing Meals

Sometimes people find it hard to eat healthily because eating is often a social event which involves many people with different eating preferences and goals. While it is important to be able to enjoy a meal with family and friends, it is also important to maintain your own eating integrity by making sure everyone is on board with your personal healthy eating goals. Friends and family, as well as those providing elder care should facilitate healthy eating, not detour from it. The following tips address ways that senior citizens can maintain the healthy eating habits without sacrificing the social aspect of sharing a meal with others or learning to adjust to a lifestyle that involves eating with less people on a day-to-day basis.

Grocery shopping with others. This can be a fun and smart way to control the cost and quantity of food that you consume. If you don’t live with many people, this is a good way to split large-quantity items like potatoes and eggs which you may not be ableto use before expiration.
A time saving a smart way to eat healthy is cooking large quantities of food ahead of time and portioning for heating on later dates.
A quick way to prepare meals for yourself or for guests involves keeping frozen or canned fruits and vegetables on hand. Draining and/or rinsing canned foods is a good way to lower sodium or calories in foods that are kept in high sugar or high salt fluids.
Eating or preparing a meal shouldn’t always be a chore. Trying new recipes or eating outside can be a fun new twist on a meal with someone special.
Try to eat with people you enjoy to be around.
Some senior citizens have difficulty preparing meals, which is why it is important to become informed about home health care agencies or eldercare facilities that can aid in providing meals. The Eldercare Locator number is 1-800-677-1116.

Loss of Appetite or Desire to Eat

There are various reasons for why some senior citizens may not eat as well as they should or lose the desire to eat completely.

If you find that it is difficult to eat well, then it is best to speak with a healthcare provider or someone involved in your elder care about what can be done to help you eat better.

Some senior citizens are unable to eat well due to issues involving the condition of their teeth or issues with dentures. Checking with a dentist about physical pain that occurs when eating or other issues can help with these issues that lead to poorer eating habits.

When senior citizens lose family and friends or become depressed about events in their life, they may lose the desire to eat. In these instances, it is of the utmost importance that these individuals seek help from people they trust like their family, friends, church community, or those assisting with their elder care that will happily help them in finding ways to continue a healthy lifestyle and eating plan.

Some senior citizens complain that the flavor of foods change when they begin to take certain medications. While it is best to consult with a physician about issues surrounding medication, people can also take vitamin supplements with food that will help them stay healthy.

If you have someone who assists with your in home care, ask them to be vigilant about helping you eat healthy. Have them remind you to eat, and ask them to lend you a hand in preparing meals that are good for you.

Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for being able to function in day-to-day life as well as stay mentally sharp. Senior citizens often lose or gain weigh as they age. If you are unsure about what weight you should maintain, consult your physician.

Health Risks Associated with Being Underweight

poor memory
compromised immunity
osteoporosis (weak bones)
decreases strength
hypothermia (lowered body temperature)
constipation

Health Risks Associated with Being Overweight

type 2 diabetes
high blood pressure
high cholesterol
heart disease
stroke (lack of oxygen transported to the brain)
some cancers
gallbladder disease

Because healthy weights will differ for everyone, it is important to verify with a physician whether it is healthy for you personally to lose or gain weight.

Staying Active

Participating in regular healthy amounts of physical activity can not only make you feel better, but it can make you less prone to diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Staying active can be difficult for senior citizens, still it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

The following are some tips for maintaining a lifestyle that incorporates physical activity:

Know what amount of physical activity is appropriate for you. Everyone has different levels of activity that is safe for them, and while remaining active is important, always consult a health care provider about what is right for your lifestyle.
Take time to warm up, cool down, or take breaks when participating in a session of increased physical activity.
Take it slow. Always start slowly and build up to more intense levels of physical activities.
If you experience any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath during exercise, stop the activity immediately.
Drink water.
Dress appropriately if you decide to exercise outdoors. Wear warmer clothes during the winter and wear lighter clothes during the summer while applying sunscreen or wearing sunglasses.
Wear the correct shoes for the activities that you participate in.

Types of Activity

Aerobic activities include activities that increase the heart rate and work the larger muscle groups. You may be able to speak a few words, but would not be able to carry on an entire conversation due to breathing patterns. Some examples of aerobics include:

brisk walking
water aerobics
tennis
house work
active play with children or pets
dancing

Begin incorporating small periods of this activity into your schedule during the week while slowly increasing the duration and frequency as time progresses. It is also important to incorporate different types of exercise that focus on balance and flexibility. Becoming used to a lifestyle with regular patterns of aerobic activity can reduce the effects of aging, control weight, lower risk of heart disease, improve flexibility, increase mood and energy, and expand social networks by meeting new people while doing various activities.

Strengthening activities involve the use of muscle groups against resistant forces like when lifting weights or doing yard work that involves lifting, digging, or pushing a lawn mower. This type of activity can keep muscles strong, reduce the need for a cane, reduce risk of bone injury, and help maintain a healthy weight.

Balance activities focus on muscles in specific areas of the body that encourage control as you move through space, reducing the likelihood of falls. This kind of activity could include walking heel to toe, standing on one foot, getting out of a sitting position without the use of the hands, and standing on the tip of your toes. Balance activities can help you stay steady on your feet and reduce the risk of fall and subsequent injury.

Flexibility activities increase the length of the muscles and can include stretching, yoga, and popular exercise programs like pilates. These activities can maintain the felxibility of joints, prevent stiffness, prevent injuries, and lower stress levels in general.

Weight-bearing activities require the muscles to work against gravity where the arms or legs bear the weight of the body. Activities like walking, tennis, and climbing stairs can build and maintain bone mass or reduce the risk of bone fractures.

Some activities incorporate multiple types of strengthening addressed above. What is important is that senior citizens find an enjoyable and do-able activity that will help them incorporate as many benefits as possible which will have far-reaching benefits to their health.

It’s Easy to Stay Healthy

A common misconception is that it takes an excessive amount of time and extra energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, by just taking short walks for ten minutes a time or cleaning the house regularly can be practical ways to incorporate different physical activities into your daily schedule. And remember, staying healthy as a senior citizen will have increasing benefits as you continue to age.

Staying Motivated to Take Care of Yourself

Just because we age doesn’t mean that we are any less stressed by occurrences in life that may make us feel bad about ourselves or decrease our motivation to be good to ourselves. If anything, many of the challenges senior citizens face add stress. Losing loved ones and friends or having trouble being independent with the added stressed of disease and functioning due to aging can cause depression or lifestyle changes that contribute to bad health. Here are some important tips for being good to yourself when you may not feel motivated due to circumstances out of your control:

Get plenty of sleep
Stay connected with family and friends
Join clubs or other social groups that you enjoy
Spend time with people that you enjoy
Volunteer at organizations in your community
Work a part-time job that isn’t too stressful or demanding
Watch a funny movie or find a way to laugh
Take up a hobby that you enjoy

Most importantly, senior citizens should remember that it is relatively easy and worth-while to maintain a healthy lifestyle as they age. Be sure to keep family, friends, and those involved in your elder care informed of your goals as they can help assist you. And remembering to eat healthy meals regularly, getting in physical activity, getting enough sleep, and being good to yourself are critical for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.