What to do when your dietary requirements change

There’s nothing better than being able to freely enjoy your food – from finding meals you love to cook each night for your family, to experimenting with different flavour combinations that you may never have tried before. For many of us, trying any and all types of food is something we take for granted; while for others, there are often limitations due to certain intolerances, diseases and dietary requirements.

Whether for health reasons or a change in lifestyle, you may find you need to approach food differently as you get older, and this change can feel daunting if you’ve settled into a pretty comfortable routine. So, how can you tackle a change in dietary requirements? We cover the basics here.

Fewer calories shouldn’t mean fewer nutrients

If you’d previously been working full-time in a labour intensive job, and have now moved part-time or completely into retirement, this will mean your life may have become more sedentary by default.

While you might not need as much energy and as many calories each day through your food intake, you still need to make sure you’re eating foods that are rich in nutrients. Think about including more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats, rather than processed foods that will have higher calories but less nutrients for your body to absorb and keep you feeling happy and healthy.

If you need more protein

For those experiencing loss of muscle mass and strength, then actively changing your diet to include more protein can be extremely helpful, especially because it can be helpful to rebuild or maintain that muscle, as well as to help your body if you’re doing resistance exercise, like weight training.

Getting more protein in your diet can come from increasing your intake of seafood, eggs, white meats like chicken or turkey breast, as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly options like almonds, oats, beans and leafy greens like spinach.

If you need more fibre

If you’re taking any medications that are causing you to feel a little blocked up, eating fibre can help relieve constipation so you stay regular. The reason it helps is that fibre passes through the gut undigested, and then helps to form stool and promote regular bowel movements.

You can boost your intake of fibre by switching from refined grains to whole grains, eating whole fruits and vegetables as opposed to juices, and including legumes like beans, dried peas and lentils in your diet.

Choosing a low FODMAP diet

Speaking of staying regular, you may decide to choose (or have it recommended that you choose) a low FODMAP diet to help manage the gastrointestinal symptoms with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A low FODMAP diet – which means a diet that opts for foods low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols – is really about monitoring your body’s reactions to high FODMAP foods to find a diet that suits you and keeps your gut and bowel in working order.

If you’re unsure of what exactly qualifies as a high FODMAP food, versus a low FODMAP food, this article from Monash University provides a really simple breakdown worth checking out.

Keeping bones strong

One of the concerns both men and women should keep in mind when getting older is the loss of bone mass and diseases like osteoporosis. For women in particular, calcium deficiency may come about as a result of menopause.

To keep your bones strong and healthy, calcium-rich foods like yoghurt, salmon and leafy greens are highly recommended. You can also boost the amount of foods you’re eating that are full of vitamin D, which also helps to maintain the health of your bones and teeth – this includes fatty fish, mushrooms and cheese.

Want to know more?

If you have concerns about your gut health, we’ve got some tips on how you can prioritise your gut here.

If you’re someone who has been newly diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, or if you’re concerned but aren’t feeling like you totally understand these often misunderstood conditions, then we’ve got a simple breakdown to help understand coeliac disease here.

Protecting yourself from liver disease is really important in terms of keeping your health in check. Read more about 10 simple ways to help keep your liver healthy here.

If you’re looking for more tips on food to include in your diet everyday that will help you stay happy and healthy, we’ve got seven hidden health foods you can pick up from your local supermarket easily today here.

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on as, a substitute for health and medical advice from a qualified health professional. You should seek the advice of a qualified health professional regarding your health and/or medical condition.