How to Change Your Diet as You Get Older

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Contributor, Benzinga
March 27, 2023

I have two aunts who are both approaching age 75.  For the purposes of this article, let’s call them Aunt Judy and Aunt Joan. 

Aunt Judy seems depressed. She spends a lot of her time at home. She doesn’t exercise. She struggles with her weight. She has two grown children who are successful – a registered nurse and a man who runs a successful home heating business – but she mostly says negative things about them. She seems to prepare the same five dinners for herself, in a rotation that starts with roast chicken, ends with meatloaf, and then starts at the beginning again.

Aunt Joan has a positive attitude on life. She still works one day a week as an accountant in the office where she has worked for years. She participates in five or six community activities and loves to travel. She is trim and energetic. Her kids are crazy about her and love to visit because they never know what kind of meal she will put in front of them. Last year she was learning to make coq au vin and other French entrees. This year, she is mastering the vegetarian cuisines of India and other countries. 

I don’t know if a scientific study of some kind would support my conclusion. But I believe that Judy and Joan have much different attitudes toward life because they have much different attitudes toward food. 

I believe that Joan is more curious about life because she is so curious about exploring different ways to eat. Judy is not interested in life because she no longer takes interest in food or in a healthy diet. 

Interesting food makes our lives more interesting. Spicy food makes our lives spicier. Food that takes skill to prepare keeps us learning and interested in life. Food that can be served to other people keeps us socially active. Food that is healthful keeps us healthy. Food that is light keeps us vibrant and trim.

You are getting the idea. But here is a question to consider . . . 

How Can You Change Your Diet as You Get Older?

After all, it seems only natural for us to continue to prepare and eat foods we have always liked as we motor into our later years. And let’s face it. As you get older, you are under no obligation to toss your favorite recipes or stop visiting a favorite restaurant you have been going to for years. 

There is no need to toss out everything you do and love about food. But if you can add new foods to your routine, maybe you can become more of a Joan and less of a Judy. You just might be able to use food as a way to enjoy life a lot more, and possibly become a lot leaner, healthier, happier, and more attractive person at the same time. 

Embarking On Your Great New Food Adventures

Here are some suggestions for changing your diet in the next year or years. You don’t have to try to use each suggestion, or even most of them. Try one or two, or only one. It’s up to you, of course. But I am prepared to predict that by changing up your diet, you will change your life. It’s not about dieting or losing weight or eating some kind of kooky, unusual fad stuff. It’s about getting more variety in your life and onto your table. And it should be fun.

Here are some random things to try.

  • Take a cooking class in some kind of national or ethnic cuisine that is new to you. The social aspects of taking a class will provide extra motivation to eat in new ways. 
  • Entertain other people by holding small dinner parties where you serve new dishes you have learned to prepare. This is one of the more effective ways to integrate new foods into your life. As an alternative, try cooking interesting foods and delivering them to your friends, neighbors, and relatives. The positive feedback you receive can be a real incentive to change what you eat at home. 
  • Visit a nutritionist and plan exciting new ways to eat and cook. 
  • Dine at ethnic and other restaurants. Or travel to other countries or regions of the U.S. and eat interesting new foods wherever you go. Keep your eyes open for new foods that you will prepare when you get home. 
  • Clean out your pantry and get rid of boring food that doesn’t excite you any longer. You can always donate your old edibles to a local charity if they are not out of date.
  • Go shopping at some different or ethnic food stores. Maybe it is time to break away from the store where you have been shopping and try somewhere new. Explore every aisle!
  • Subscribe to cooking newsletters online. There are hundreds to choose from, and they can bring you new recipes and ideas for foods to prepare every day.  
  • Splurge and buy a new cooking gadget like a sous vide cooker, an Instant Pot cooker, a hot air fryer, or a Dutch oven or a new set of cookware. New equipment can give you new ideas and new enthusiasm for shaking up the way you eat and exploring new foods and cuisines.

So Are You a Judy or a Joan?

You’re a Joan! And a happy one too. People will thank you, and you will thank yourself for taking your life in exciting new directions, thanks to eating in adventurous new ways. 

So get cooking, get eating  . . . and get going with your exciting new life.