It seems there’s a national holiday dedicated to celebrating pretty much anything these days. I was just checking out NationalDayCalendar.com (yes, that’s a thing), and we have some pretty fantastic days to celebrate in the month of March – Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (March 1), Banana Cream Pie Day (March 2), Cheese Doodle Day (March 5), Oreo Cookie Day (March 6), and I am not even through the first week of the month. Maybe the food holidays are standing out because I have been dieting since January 1st and all I really want is to do is devour a basket of chips and queso. It appears if I want to do it justice, however, I should wait until March 23rd for National Chip and Dip Day.
March is also National Nutrition Month® (she puts down the bag of cheese doodles), which focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. While important for all of us, nutrition is particularly important for older adults.
Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with these recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- Eat fruits and vegetables. They can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens or broccoli, and orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas.
- Eat at least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day. Choose whole grains whenever possible.
- Have three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) that are fortified with vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy.
- Make the fats you eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.
There are many food choices that have amazing health benefits. For instance, berries, dark leafy greens and walnuts help boost memory. Dark chocolate, red wine and green tea have shown anti-inflammatory effects. Salmon, sweet potatoes and kale provide nutrients to help prevent cataracts and glaucoma. Of course, you’ll want to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you develop an eating plan that is right for you.
Healthy food choices can be expensive, and some seniors in our area struggle to afford healthier food options. Beyond shopping at your grocery store on senior discount day, we are lucky to have resources in North Fulton to help keep older adults nutritionally healthy. You may need to qualify for certain programs:
- Meals on Wheels – Senior Services North Fulton – 770-993-1906 – meals (and a welfare check) delivered to your home Monday-Friday
- North Fulton Community Charities Food Pantry – North Fulton – 678-387-4465 – shop in person or home delivery
- Community Action Center – Sandy Springs – 770-552-4015 – shop in person or home delivery
- Senior centers – many serve affordable or free lunches
- Restaurants senior discounts. Check out Clark Howard’s website for some great recommendations. Remember to order healthy! – https://clark.com/deals-money-saving-advice/senior-restaurant-discounts/