Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors

What’s on your mom’s menu today? 

Is she getting a healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, and protein or is she making do with a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of Ensure?

“Many seniors struggle to maintain a healthy diet. It’s something we see a lot – especially if they live alone,” said Sierra Goetz, co-founder and operations manager at the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “Maybe they don’t have regular access to fresh foods or they lack the stamina to cook a full, nutritious meal. For many, though, it’s simply that cooking for one is not as fun or fulfilling as cooking for a spouse or other family members. It’s quicker, easier, and less messy to just open a can of pop something in the microwave.”

Good nutrition is essential to healthy aging. A balanced diet can improve energy levels and control weight. It can also prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. 

So, what should be on your mom’s plate?

As people age, they need less food to maintain weight. However, the need for vitamins and minerals may stay the same or even increase. To account for those changes, nutrition scientists at Tufts University developed MyPlate for older adults – a guide to help people 50 years or older maintain a healthy diet. Instead of counting calories, families can refer to MyPlate to see how much plate space should be devoted to each food group, including:

Fruits and Vegetables

Whole fruits and vegetables are rich in important nutrients and fiber and generally low in calories. Fruits and vegetables with deeply colored flesh have the highest amounts of nutrients, including asparagus, beets, blueberries, carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and more.

Healthy Oils

Use liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, canola, and love when cooking and preparing things like salad dressings. 


Water, tea, coffee, soups fruits, and vegetables are all important sources of fluids. Examples of fluid-filled fruits and vegetables include – apricots, bell peppers, broccoli, cherries, grapes, grapefruit, lettuce, nectarines, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon. 

Whole Grains

Whole grain and fortified foods are good sources of fiber and B vitamins. Common whole grains include barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, cornmeal, popcorn, and whole wheat bread.


Fat-free and low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurts are good sources of protein, calcium, and other nutrients.


A healthy plate includes a variety of seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, soy products, and low/non-fat dairy products. 

“At HCAN, we know that it’s not always possible for families to make sure their aging loved ones are eating healthy, nutritious meals. That’s where we come in,” Goetz said. “As part of our customized care plans, our caregivers can help seniors shop for healthy foods and prepare balanced meals. They also add an ingredient not found on any plate – companionship. When meals are shared with others, they’re more enjoyable and often more nutritious.”

For more information about meal prep and other services that can help your loved ones age safely in their home, call your local HCAN office or visit 

For more information about MyPlate, including shopping and meal planning tools, visit