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Taking a bite out of nutrition myths

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to take a look at your eating habits. Seniors have unique nutritional requirements—and meeting those requirements is key to staying healthy and active, whether you’re 65 or 105.

But, there’s a lot of information—and misinformation—out there, making it tough to know the best ways to eat right. Dieticians of Canada offers several trusted resources designed for seniors, including Nutri-eSCREEN, an online questionnaire on your eating habits that can help determine areas you’re doing well in, and where there’s room for improvement.

Here are five nutritional myths for seniors to watch out for:

Myth #1: Because older people have slower metabolisms, they need fewer nutrients.

Fact: Yes, older adults generally require fewer calories than young adults, but they also need more of certain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B12 and calcium. Our body’s ability to absorb these vitamins declines with age, so it’s important to eat foods such as milk, chicken and fish, and check with your doctor about taking supplements for all.

Myth #2: It’s normal to lose your appetite as you age.

Fact: While it’s often normal to eat less as you get older, loss of appetite should not be a given. It may indicate that something more serious is going on, so it’s recommended you check with your doctor if you experience any changes in appetite. Sometimes a decreased sense of taste or dental issues can actually be the problem masquerading as a loss of appetite.

Myth #3: Since food is food, it doesn’t matter whether older people eat alone or with others every day.

Fact: Studies show that seniors eat better when dining with others, while consuming (and preparing) meals alone can lead to poor nutrition and loneliness—a recipe for physical and cognitive decline. It’s important to enjoy as many meals as possible in a social setting: in fact, that’s one reason why some individuals find their health improves after a move to a retirement community. They find the combination of balanced nutrition in a social setting leads to feeling better physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Myth #4: If you drink fluids when you feel thirsty, you won’t become dehydrated.

Fact: The sensation of thirst declines as we age, so it’s possible to be dehydrated and not feel particularly thirsty, according to a 2007 study from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. At the same time, seniors taking certain medications require more fluids to stay hydrated. For years, the oft-repeated advice was to drink eight glasses of water every day, but newer research shows that there are many individual factors at play, such as physical size and activity level that regulate how much fluid we need to stay healthy. The U.S. National Institute on Aging has a handy tip sheet to help you stay properly and safely hydrated.

Chartwell retirement residences offer many options for nutritious—and delicious—dining. Visitors are encouraged to stay for a meal to experience wonderful food in a warm and friendly social setting. To learn more, please call 1-855-461-0685 today.