Quality is more important than quantity. That's one important message to remember when it comes to eating in your middle years.
Let's face it, most of us have slowed down a bit. We don't need to take in the same amout of calories we did when we were younger. So focus on the nutrients that you need – the nutrients that will be useful for your health and lifestyle – rather than filling yourself up.
Here a few tips to help:
- eat a wide range of foods covering all food groups
- eat at least three meals per day
- don’t skip breakfast
- eat only small amounts of foods with a large proportion of fat or sugar, such as fried foods, cream, biscuits, cakes and pastry
- drink plenty of fluids for hydration and to prevent constipation, but limit highly sweetened drinks
- if you drink alcohol, limit it to two standard drinks per day. A standard drink is 375 ml of beer, 100ml of wine or 30ml of spirits.
Lengthy instructions and lists of recommended foods can appear daunting but basically, if you eat regular meals containing the foods recommended below, you are likely to be meeting your nutrient needs.
- Choose from lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs or vegetarian alternatives such as tofu, dried beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Include them in one to two meals daily.
- Eat low-fat milk, yoghurt or cheese. If using other milks such as almond, rice or soy milk, check you have chosen a brand with added calcium. Aim for three serves daily, where a serve equals a cup of milk or yoghurt or a slice of cheese.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. And remember, their varying colours reflect different antioxidants and other nutrients, which help maintain health, so include a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables. Five serves of vegetables and two of fruit are recommended each day.
- Include wholegrain breads and cereals.
- Include ‘heart healthy’ oils in small amounts, including olive oil or seed oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut and soy. Limit saturated fats such as animal fat, butter, cream and palm oil.
If you eat regular meals with adequate food variety you really shouldn’t need nutritional supplements (see Recommended foods for some guidelines). However, there are some exceptions.
- Vitamin D and calcium are recommended if you don’t eat much dairy food (also see Bone Health).
- A vitamin B12 supplement may be recommended for people who are on medications that reduce stomach acid, such as Nexium.
- Iron supplements are unlikely to be needed by healthy women after menopause as the need for iron to manufacture red blood cells decreases once periods cease. Most women can meet their iron needs with a varied diet.
The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.