After 50: Changing Your Diet

Seven tips for better health as you get older

When you turn 50, you may notice that your body doesn't digest food the same as when you were younger. As your body ages and metabolism slows, keeping weight off and staying strong … is different. And it can be challenging.

This is why making healthy food choices is very important—your body changes through your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. Making healthy food choices can help you feel your best at every step of your life.

We have several tips for you when deciding what to eat and drink for better health as you get older.

  1. Plan healthy meals and drink water: Plan healthy options to maintain your weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Choose to drink water often; choose soda less frequently. Switch up beverage choices by including low-fat or fat-free milk or 100% juice. Limit food and drinks with excessive added sugars or salt, like processed foods.

  2. Explore vegetables: When cooking, include various colors, flavors, and textures with vegetables. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and are a good source of fiber. Watch these videos to try making Spring Veggie Shepherd's Pie or a Heart Healthy Avocado Salsa if you need inspiration. 

  3. Read the nutrition label: Pay attention to calories, fat, sodium, and information on the nutrition facts label. Ask your doctor if there are nutrients you might need to limit or increase.

  4. Use herbs and spices: The flavor of foods may change as you age. Some medications can change how food tastes, and your taste buds may become less sensitive. Add flavor with herbs and spices without adding fat (like butter) or salt. You can grow your fresh herbs and spices at home.

  5. Know how much to eat: It is important to know portion sizes. When ordering takeout, keep half of your meal to eat later. Many restaurant dishes are enough for two meals (or more).

  6. Keep food safe: Avoid foods that are a safety risk, such as unpasteurized dairy foods. Other foods can be harmful when raw or undercooked, including eggs, fish, shellfish, meat, or poultry.

  7. Learn more about vitamins and supplements: We need vitamins and minerals for our body to function fully. Together, they help us work. Adding vitamins and supplements can boost your body and ensure you are getting the nutrients you need.

Keep yourself accountable

Before starting a new nutrition program, use Secure Messaging to talk to your health care team. Keep a food journal to track your eating habits. Recording your daily meals can help you make mindful choices. Veterans with a My HealtheVet account can use track health tools such as the online body weight and food journal to record and view their progress.

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Updated September 19, 2022