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Saturday, May 18, 2024

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A Better Relationship With Food As You Age

This post is a duplication of our newsletter, The Weekly Reset, where we review a key theme each week. In the spotlight this week: A better relationship with food as you age. How is your relationship with food?

A note from Johann

Eat better in retirement

It’s never too late to improve your relationship with food

As lifestyle changes are an inevitable part of the retirement process, it would be just as well to add a change of eating patterns to your daily habits. To stay healthy and to manage what the experts now tell us about our increasing longevity in advanced age, you need less food and better choices of what you eat

The long established habit of eating three meals a day and to give in to all kinds of snacking would be setting ourselves up for a range of elderhood aches and pains. A recent study published in the Cell Metabolism journal has concluded that cutting your food intake by 15% over two years can slow down aging and protect you against major illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and alzheimers. It can also address typical mental health conditions we experience in retirement, such as depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness.

Fasting is becoming an important way to restrict eating and various new trends, like intermittent fasting, are now hot subjects. Extensive medical research has found that establishing the habit of limiting food intake to certain hours of the day has many health benefits. So has a tougher approach to portion control.

An important additional consideration is eating more carefully, and apart from such obvious restrictions like limiting sugar and alcohol, retirees are encouraged to eat fresh food, focussing on fruit and vegetables. Growing your own food is becoming an ideal method of promoting this change. For people with gardens this is easier, but even for those that have restricted space such as pot plants on their balconies it is possible to build a mini garden with the right mindset. Healthy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and celery are being cultivated by many newly converted right-eaters.

Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver have made better eating and delicious meals prepared in twenty minutes as part of the new lifestyle. Retired people don’t need to spend a lot of time and trouble eating less and making better choices.


Our top pick this week:

Our take: So much of our health and how we function on a daily basis comes down to the nutrients we need. As we get older our nutrient needs change and getting the balance right can impact how you feel. This helpful article from Healthline is a great starting point for understanding some of the nutritional needs that change as we age.

How Your Nutritional Needs Change as You Age

Elderly woman expressing her happiness whilst holding a dog with a bicycle next to her

“Needing Fewer Calories, but More Nutrients
A person’s daily calorie needs depend on their height, weight, muscle mass, activity level and several other factors.

Older adults may need fewer calories to maintain their weight, since they tend to move and exercise less and carry less muscle (5).

If you continue to eat the same number of calories per day as you did when you were younger, you could easily gain extra fat, especially around the belly area (6).

This is especially true in postmenopausal women, as the decline in estrogen levels seen during this time may promote belly fat storage (7).

However, even though older adults need fewer calories, they need just as high or even higher levels of some nutrients, compared to younger people.

This makes it very important for older people to eat a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats. These healthy staples can help you fight nutrient deficiencies, without expanding your waistline.

Nutrients that become especially important as you age include protein, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12.”

Click here to read the whole article on Healthline

Our Spotlight video:

Building A Better Relationship With Food In Later Life

We look at ways to improve our relationship with the food we eat. As we grow older our nutritional needs change. How we eat and what we eat is part of the toolkit we can use to better our health and maintain our longevity. As with most tools, we can improve our skills through practice. Whether by growing our own food, being aware of the nutritious value of what we eat or preparing our food in healthy ways.

Click here to watch the full video on our youtube channel

Weekly spotlight video

Other highlights for the week:

Our take: One way of eating for health is to cook your own food. The benefits of preparing our own meals are numerous and include increased physical activity, sociability, cognition and improved diet. Where we may have been rushed in our working lives, we can spend more time preparing and enjoying meals as enjoy more leisure time in retirement. This article from Psychology Benefits outlines some benefits.

5 Ways Cooking Can Keep You Young

Representation of healthy food

“Aging gracefully isn’t always a sweet process. The World Health Organization warns that malnutrition is a looming issue for our aging population1, but sensory losses can make food less appealing and increase risk for undereating and weight loss2. However, eating a variety of foods can boost consumption of micronutrients and help to prevent age-related diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes2. Taking an active role in preparing our own food has been shown to benefit physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing as we get older. It seems as though healthy aging could boil down to spending more time in the kitchen, so here are five ways cooking can spice up your daily routine!

  1. Increases physicality
    The health benefits start even before any cooking happens! Before you can cook, you need to get ingredients; getting out to shop for your ingredients is a great way to add some exercise into a daily routine.
  2. Helps social and emotional health
    Cooking classes can keep kitchen skills from getting stale: they not only improve nutritional habits in older adults, but psychological wellbeing as well5.
  3. Improves diet quality
    Cooking classes are beneficial for mental health and can also improve the quality of your meals! Researchers have found that older adults enrolled in cooking classes include more vegetables and fiber within their diets, which are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease5.
  4. Maintains mental fitness
    Cooking can also preserve your cognitive functioning with age. Research indicates that cognitive abilities generally decrease throughout the lifetime, with some individuals experiencing considerable losses in executive functioning10. Don’t stew over that, though, because cooking may be able to offset these declines in cognition.
  5. Adapts to your unique situation
    If you are no longer living independently, certain cooking modifications may serve up similar benefits. For those with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment, virtual cooking games like ‘kitchen and cooking’ have increased both speed and accuracy of executive functioning11.”

    Click here to read the article on Psychology Benefits

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Wildcard Pick for the Week

Our take: Dr Drew Ramsey is a psychiatrist and a leader in the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry. His assertion is that we can change our mood through diet and that by eating to reduce inflammation we can address depression. This is a powerful tool to consider in a time when many people go through changes in lifestyle that can trigger changes in our mood. Dr Ramsey proposes 8 specific types of food to add to your dietary toolkit.

Eat These Foods To End Inflammation & Reduce Stress

Click here to watch the podcast by Dr Chatterjee

Most Popular Quote of the Week

My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people. Orson Wells

Our take: Sharing a meal with others is one of life’s pleasures. Whether a simple meal with family, a celebration with friends or preparing a meal share with those less fortunate, we benefit from the social connection and interactions that take place around a table. We can have a positive impact on our health not only by what we prepare to eat but also by eating in a communal setting.

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Quote by Orson Wells – My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three others.

Weekly Question

This week’s question:
For which aspect of the transition to retirement do feel most well equipped?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group

Last week’s question and some of the findings:
How would you describe your relationship with food?
Mother and daughter type relationship
• Love / Hate
• Obsessed
• Nom Nom
• Very positive
• Addicted to the sweet stuff over here
• I grow, buy local, and home cook the majority of my food.
• Have a hard time kicking the sugar habit.. its my poison
• Love my food

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.