We hear it every time we want to know how to improve our health. Or every time we go to the doctor. Eat more vegetables. But how? And what if I don’t like them?
Let’s talk about the “how” first. Color is the spice of life. Add more color to your plate to add more of a variety of the nutrients you need. Eating a salad? Fill it up with all sorts of colors. Use a variety of lettuce types – there’s baby kale, romaine, arugula, baby spinach, baby chard, mustard greens, collard greens…the list is so long. Mix as many or as few in as you’d like. Reach for different colors of vegetables – a yellow bell pepper, baby tomatoes, red onion, mushrooms, cucumber, carrots, avocado, and whatever else you like. Don’t forget about fruit, nuts and seeds. Reach for your favorite in-season fresh fruit – ripe apples, oranges, or nectarines. Or even just toss some dried cranberries on top. Throw on some almond slivers or pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Make it however you want, just add color.
Half of a plate should be filled with veggies, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Take this opportunity to steam a batch of mixed vegetables. Again, keep color in mind. Steam, sauté, or roast a bunch of vegetables together. Try a roasted root vegetable night with roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and beets. Don’t be afraid to substitute some things or add even more, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, squash (yellow and green!), or bell peppers.
Don’t like vegetables? Don’t be afraid to be generous with seasonings. Try low-sodium spice mixes (like Mrs. Dash) that can be liberally applied. Test different cooking methods and different types of vegetables. Add them into literally whatever is for dinner that night. Cook them in sauces, add them to the pan with whatever grain and/or protein is cooking, or just make a soup or casserole. There’s a vegetable for everyone! You just have to find it.
Check out the attachments for quick tips on how to add vegetables to your diet and to your kids’ diets:
If you want to change your body composition, or lose or gain weight, it requires balancing the amount of physical activity you do with the amount of calories you eat. To lose weight, if you do more physical activity (burn more calories) and eat less (eat fewer calories), you will likely lose weight, although there are exceptions to this rule of thumb. BMI has been shown to be highly related to specific diseases, for example, diabetes and some cancers. For weight loss, it is recommended that you be physically active 300 minutes per week, or double the amount of time that is recommended to prevent disease and improve health. If you want to improve your body composition, build in 60 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days per week. You can also alter your eating by consuming fewer calories to improve your body composition, or do both.
If you want to have your body composition measured specifically, make an appointment for a fitness test (Contact Jo Beth Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-245-3569).
Here are some of the ways that physical activity is beneficial to older adults:
- Help to maintain a healthy weight
- Improve immune function, digestion and sleep
- Boost memory and mood
- Increase bone density and combat the effects of osteoporosis
- Prevent muscle loss and increase strength
- Promote cardiovascular health
- Improve coordination, balance and flexibility (all essential to avoiding falls)
Regardless of your age or physical condition, you can reap these benefits and more and it doesn't have to be strenuous, boring or time-consuming. Even if you have trouble standing, chair-based exercises are a very effective way to increase your activity level. Approximately 150 minutes of aerobic activity, combined with muscle strengthening activities a couple of times per week will substantially benefit most seniors.
Tips to get started:
- Consult with your medical care provider before beginning any new exercise routine
- Start slow, especially if you haven't exercised in awhile
- Find activities that you enjoy, and you'll be more likely to continue them
- Consider trying out a class, as having a routine will help you stay motivated (Total Wellness offers an Active Older Adults class 3 times per week at the San Marcos Activity Center)
Whether you are in good health or managing disease/illness, whether you aim to maintain or improve your physical health, mental health and acuity, boost your mood and confidence, or just improve your overall feeling of well-being, consider incorporating a little physical exercise into your week!
Join us every Monday, Tuesday & Thursday from 10:15 to 11:15 at the San Marcos Activity Center for AOA FitMix, a fitness mixer designed to cater to active aging adults of all ability levels, incorporating low-impact aerobics, strengthening, balance, and coordination activities, not to mention wonderful fellowship! Drop in a try your first class free.