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What does a healthy meal look like

What does a healthy meal look like

How do you make sure you’re eating enough of the right nutrients to stay healthy? This picture says it all. A balance of nutrients is essential for growing, repairing and building body tissues and cells.

Vegetables or fruit (excluding potatoes) should cover half your plate

Vegetables and fruit are rich in nutrients you need for optimal functioning of all body processes: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Aim to eat a rainbow, i.e. as many colours as you can at every meal.

Protein should cover a quarter of your plate

The strength and size of muscles decline with ageing which contributes to a loss of mobility, function and ability to perform activities of daily living. Protein intake can prevent muscle loss. Good protein sources include lean meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese and yoghurt. Salmon and sardines are packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fats. Legumes, eggs and nuts are also packed with protein. [1] It’s important for older adults to eat protein throughout the day, because the digestive system can only absorb a little at a time. Aim to include protein with every meal and snack. Carbohydrates should cover a quarter of your plate

Your senior years are not a time to go low carb. For consistent energy and to feel full after meals, you need to include high fibre carbohydrates with each meal, i.e. wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, oats, kumara or potato. [2]

Use fat as a garnish or dressing

Don’t skip the fat. Good oils and healthy fats are essential for hormone production, healthy skin, providing energy and protecting organs. They also contain vitamins (A,D,E & K) and assist nutrient absorption. Good choices include olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocado oil.

Include some dairy products

To ensure you get enough calcium, it’s recommended you consume three servings of dairy products a day. These fall into the protein foods category. Options include milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other foods high in calcium include dark green leafy veges, almonds, tofu, soy beans and sardines.

Eat healthy snacks

Choose nourishing morning and afternoon snacks, such as a handful of roasted almonds, greek yoghurt with fruit slices, hummus with carrot sticks, plain popcorn, wholegrain crackers with cheese or tuna, or a boiled egg with half a slice of toast.

Drink enough water

Many older adults don’t drink enough water. Dehydration can cause difficulty walking, confusion, rapid heart rate and other symptoms. Eight glasses of water a day is the recommendation, in addition to any other liquids you drink. To reach the target, try sipping from a large drink bottle throughout the day.

Hydrate with nutritious fluids if you’re underweight

If you struggle with maintaining your weight, stay hydrated with nutritious drinks, such as smoothies, milkshakes and hot beverages made with whole milk.


[1] https://www.indi.ie/fact-sheets/fact-sheets-on-nutrition-for-older-people/509-good-nutrition-for-the-older-person.html

[2] https://www.indi.ie/fact-sheets/fact-sheets-on-nutrition-for-older-people/509-good-nutrition-for-the-older-person.html