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Personalize Your Plate According to Stage of Life

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This year’s National Nutrition Month theme highlights nutrition needs over a lifespan. Food preferences may change with maturity, and nutritional needs are certainly affected by age. Read on for some tips for balanced eating according to age:

Children – Focus on exposure to diverse groups of food. Expect variability with appetite as intake will vary spontaneously based on growth rate.

Teens to 20s — Focus on building bone density by eating and drinking calcium-rich items such as cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, and plant based calcium-fortified beverages such as soy or almond milks. Non-dairy sources of calcium include fortified cereals, beans, some leafy greens and canned salmon with bones.

20s to 30s — Maintain a foundation for balanced eating with a focus on fiber, including whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Women ready to start a family need to focus on folate rich foods, such as beans, peas, dark-green leafy vegetables, and eat foods fortified with folic acid such as breads, cereals, and other grain products. A folic acid supplement may also be needed and should be discussed with a health care provider.

30s to 40s — Prevent chronic disease with a focus on 2 ½ C of veggies and 2 C of fruit most days. Continue to eat a variety of other nutritious foods, including whole grains, beans, peas and lentils for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

40s to 50s — Fluctuating hormones and increased sedentary time may affect metabolic rate. Use active movement regularly with a focus on limiting foods and beverages with added sugars, salt and saturated fat.

60s and beyond — Protein is especially important in this age group for bone strength and to maintain muscle. Good sources of protein include seafood, lean cuts of meat, eggs, beans, tofu and nuts. Animal-based protein foods also provide vitamin B12, which is a concern for some older adults.

For more information and support with attaining balanced nutrition for your age group, email the dietitians at Waverley Oaks at nutrition@waverleyoaks.com!

Content submitted by Jessica Roy, MS, RD, LDN