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Eating Well As We Age

Eating Well

Many older people have trouble eating well. This booklet tells why. Then it gives ideas on what you can do about it. Using the food label is one way to eat well. There are others.

Problem: Can't chew

Do you have trouble chewing? If so, you may have trouble eating foods such as meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

What to do: Try other foods

Instead of:
fresh fruit fruit juices and soft canned fruits, such as applesauce, peaches, and pears
raw vegetables vegetable juices and creamed and mashed cooked vegetables
meat ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and foods made with milk, such as pudding and cream soups
sliced bread cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding, and soft cookies

Problem: Upset stomach

Too much gas and other stomach problems may make you stay away from foods you think cause the problem. This means you could be missing out on important nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium, fiber, and protein.

What to do: Try other foods

Instead of:
milk milk foods that may not bother you, such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt, and cheese
vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli vegetable juices and other vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and potatoes
fresh fruit fruit juices and soft canned fruits

Problem: Can't shop

You may have problems shopping for food. Maybe you can't drive anymore. You may have trouble walking or standing for a long time.

What to do:

Problem: Can't cook

You may have problems with cooking. It may be hard for you to hold cooking utensils and pots and pans. Or you may have trouble standing for a long time.

What to do:

To find out about senior citizen group meals and home-delivered meals, call (800) 677-1116. These meals cost little or no money.

Problem: No appetite

Older people who live alone sometimes feel lonely at mealtimes. This feeling can make you lose your appetite. Or you may not feel like making meals for just yourself. Maybe your food has no flavor or tastes bad. This could be caused by medicines you are taking.

What to do:

Problem: Short on money

Not having enough money to buy enough food can keep you from eating well.

What to do:

Read Food Labels

Look for words that say something healthy about the food. Examples are: "Low Fat," "Cholesterol Free," and "Good Source of Fiber."

Also look for words that tell about the relation of food to a disease. A low-fat food may say:

"While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease."

The words may be on the front or side of the food package. The FDA makes sure these words are true.

Look For ‘Nutrition Facts'

Most food labels tell what kinds and amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and other nutrients are in food.

This information is called "Nutrition Facts."

For More Information

If you have questions, you can call your nearest FDA office. Look for the number in the blue pages of the phone book. Or call the FDA's toll-free number (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332). Or look for the FDA on the Internet at www.fda.gov

The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that makes sure foods are safe, wholesome, and honestly labeled.

Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane (HFI-40)
Rockville, MD 20857


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