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Healthy Food for a Long, Active Life

preparing healthy food

You want to know the secrets to a long, healthy life? They aren’t as mysterious as some marketers would have you believe. There is no magic pill or drastic diet or exercise program that guarantees a long life. Researchers have studied “blue zones” where people are known to live long, active lives and have found the commonalities among these people. Healthy food is one of the biggest components of their longevity. This month, we are focusing on healthy food made simple: tasty recipes, resources for quick but healthy food, and ideas to add variety to your diet while including more healthy food.

Baby Boomers have the longest life expectancy of any generation thus far, yet higher levels of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, obesity and disability than the generation that came before them. Healthy food can reduce the health risks associated with these issues, for a long and HEALTHY life.

Healthy Food=Sexy Diet

Variety is actually one of the keys to getting healthy food in your diet. Anything can be okay in moderation…the key is to have varied, healthy food as the bulk of your “fuel”. Healthy food doesn’t need to be boring and tasteless. It can be varied and delicious, and will definitely give you added energy and vitality. Enjoy your food, try new things and feel better…simple recipe for longevity, but not always so easy to implement (which is why we’re here with help).

Plant-based foods should make up the bulk of your diet, according to the best health and medical researchers. At a Johns Hopkins’ women’s conference last year, several physicians reiterated a plant-based diet as the key to healthy aging.

How can you add more variety while enjoying your meals?

  • Add veggies into your meal and slightly decrease the size of animal protein, or go vegetarian one or two days/week. Taste a variety of veggies and try different preparation methods.
  • Add veggies to foods you already like and experiment with styles of food you like (Indian vegetarian curry, veggie sushi, spicy Mexican dishes with healthy beans, comfort foods revised with added vegetables or lower calorie/fat options).
  • Try something new. Pick a new recipe, grab a new fruit or veggie at the store; check out this A-Z of veggies.
  • Cook extra, so you have less work and more healthy choices on hand.
  • Check out these easy tips for sneaking more fruits and vegetables into your diet, including prep ahead Meatless Mondy recipes, seasonal guides and on-the-go options.

As We Get Older We Need More “Bang Per Bite”

Nutrition needs increase as we get older, while caloric needs decrease. Therefore, we need nutrient-dense foods (to get the most “bang per bite) to fuel our bodies for energy and wellness. Healthy food isn’t just about keeping weight down; healthy food keeps us well and helps us recover. Medications can affect nutrition: statins increase the need for Coenzyme Q10 and acid-blocking meds reduce absorption of B12 (lack of which is associated with dementia risk).

The tips above are great for getting more nutrient dense foods. Temptation is all around us today, but so are options. Even the gas station or convenience store has healthy options (hidden among many very unhealthy ones) so you can grab something pretty healthy on-the-go. On a recent trip, I picked up the following snack at Walgreens: a “protein pack” (nuts, cheese and lean turkey) and a banana. At the airport, I was able to grab a pack containing two types of sliced apple and a small thing of cheese and crackers. They also had delicious yogurt, Kind bars and several types of salads. The truth: I felt better and I’d rather eat a nice meal or get myself a treat I’ll enjoy, rather than something unhealthy but pretty tasteless from a convenience store or airport.

  • Eat lean foods with high levels of nutrients. Here’s a great list of “the world’s 100 healthiest foods“. This is great because not only are they healthy, but readily available and pretty affordable.
  • Consume more fiber. You will feel fuller and fiber can help with weight control and of course, digestion.
  • Cut sodium. Herbs can be used to flavor foods and reduce the need for salt. Processed foods are the worst culprit, though, so having convenient fresh foods available is your best weapon.

Here are some additional tips from EasyLiving about eating a varied diet and doing it on a budget.

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