As we age, our dietary needs inevitably change. Most adults can attest to a significant change in metabolism from those teenage years when you could eat whatever you wanted and never suffer any undue consequences. But this is especially true as years continue to pass and we move from middle age to senior years. In order to maintain a vibrant and healthy lifestyle, it’s necessary to take some vital steps in ensuring healthy aging.
One great way to manage your health as you age—along with aiding in weight loss, boosting the immune system, controlling blood sugar, salt intake, fat intake, and more—is to switch to a plant-based diet. This type of diet centers around whole, minimally-processed foods, limits or avoids foods that come from animals, and focuses on food that grows from the ground or on trees. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains are all a part of a balanced diet, but can also be used creatively as the basis for a complete pattern of consumption that creates healthy eating habits without sacrificing any of the flavor of your favorite recipes.
To many, plant-based diet brings to mind chewing on a celery stalk or slowly devouring a giant bowl of lettuce and calling it a whole meal. But this doesn’t have to be the case. A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to only eat plants like a vegetarian or vegan would. Pescatarians eat fish in addition to a plant-based diet. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products, but not eggs. All of these diets include meat and dairy options, but are still centered around healthy servings of fruits and vegetables. As a rule, to get the most out of a healthy plant-based diet, most of your plate should be made up of fruits, vegetables, starches, legumes and grains. The plant based choices should make up the bulk of each meal, with meat or other non-vegetarian options serving as simply a side or even a garnish to complement the bounty of other choices.
If you are thinking of embarking upon a plant-based diet, you don’t need to start off as a full-vegan to get the best heart and health benefits. First, focus on eating more vegetables, whole grains, and fruits in place of unhealthy foods. Choose less processed foods, such as replacing white rice with brown rice. Then focus on alternative sources of protein—to replace large servings of meat—like guava, asparagus, quinoa, kale, and oatmeal. And for calcium-rich foods, give sesame seeds, chickpeas, almonds, bok choy, and coconut milk a try.
Experiment. Try foods you’ve never tasted before. Challenge yourself to make veggie versions of foods you love. For instance, replace a ground beef with grilled Portobello mushroom for a hearty burger. You’ll be surprised at how many foods you love have plant-based equivalents. Vegan mayonnaise and pasta sauces, for example, can be made from cashews.
If this sounds good to you, be assured it’s never too late to make this change, no matter what age. With a plant-based diet, odds are you’ll soon be feeling better, looking better, and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
At Pacifica Senior Living, we train our chefs and kitchens to be able to provide our residents with a variety of different dietary options for the benefit of their health and well-being. We are able to accommodate different textural diet options ordered by a physician, but beyond that, many of our communities also offer vegetarian, gluten free, and organic options for those interested in these healthy alternatives. We know how important it is that our residents have their dietary needs met while still offering delicious meal options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and strive to meet those preferences through a variety of delicious and creative choices. This is just one of the many ways we ensure that all of our residents get to live their best-possible lives while members of the Pacifica Family.
We invite you to visit one of our communities and sample of our delicious meals, in person or to-go, and we are certain you’ll see be pleased with our expertly crafted fare. We sincerely believe that our culinary offerings satisfy a wide array of tastes and preferences while delivering the daily nutritional essentials that help our residents continue to thrive. You won’t be disappointed!