Diet and Nutrition

We all know it’s important to eat healthily and take regular exercise. As you get older, this can be even more beneficial – quite simply, a balanced diet can keep your body fit and healthy. There are other benefits too: your immune system will be better equipped to fight off illness and infection, and it can also be fun to experiment with different recipes and foods you may not have tried before.

In this video, Carole Ann Rice gives some hints and tips on what to think about when it comes to nutritional health in retirement.

Why should I think about my diet now?

Well, when you start thinking about retirement, it’s a time to focus on what you’d like to do with your free time – even if that means finding more work. To do that you need to be healthy and to be healthy you have to eat well. You should eat nutritious foods regularly.

What is nutrition?

It’s the food you take in, the process of getting food into your body and using it as raw materials for growth, fuel for energy, and vitamins and minerals to help keep your body working properly. We say that a ‘nutritious meal’ is one that’s balanced with a good combination of proteins, fats and sugars (the right kinds), vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fibre.

So what should my diet include?

A good place to find advice about your diet is at NHS Eatwell. It explains how your diet should consist of a variety of the following:

  • Carbohydrates – bread, rice, potato, pasta
  • Protein – meat, fish, eggs, beans
  • Fats – cheese, milk, yoghurt
  • Vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables

You don’t have to have all of these food groups with every meal, but it’s good to try and incorporate them into your weekly intake. If this sounds like hard work, don’t worry.

Many people start budgeting when they reach retirement and find planning weekly meals much easier as a result (you may even have fun experimenting with new recipes).

Should I lose weight?

It’s generally agreed that there are some physical benefits to getting rid of those extra pounds as you get older – the strain on your heart will be reduced, and your joints will benefit too. Losing weight can also improve your self-esteem and confidence, which is good for your overall well-being.

If I want to lose weight, how can I do that?  

The truth is, it’s not about dieting – it’s about changing what you eat as part of your lifestyle. Crash diets rarely work and rapid weight loss often results in short term stress: more often than not, the weight comes back. The majority of experts concur that the best way to achieve sustained weight loss is by making changes that you can sustain in the long term.

So, particularly if you’re thinking about setting a budget and sticking to it as you get older, it’s a good idea to:

  • Simply eat less – you’ll be surprised how full you start to feel on less food.
  • Eat fewer cakes, biscuits and chocolate – they’re full of sugars and carbohydrate that taste great but don’t leave you feeling very full.
  • Cut down on snacking between meals.
  • Try to have 5 portions of fruit and veg each day.
  • Protein is generally thought to make you feel full for longer, so trying to eat eggs for breakfast could be one small change you could make.

Will eating healthily cost more?

There can be the misconception that eating a healthy balanced diet costs more – but this isn’t so. There are many ways to ensure that you have nutritious and filling meals each day without blowing your retirement income. The British Heart Foundation has some great tips and BBC Good Food has a range of excellent recipes for cooking on a budget.


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