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Healthy Eating Resources for adults over 65 years

healthy eating resources

In May 2023, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, launched the Healthy Eating Resources for older people. These resources were developed by the Department of Health with the Health Service Executive (HSE), Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and Safefood. The revised Healthy Eating Resources are based on the FSAI Scientific Recommendations for Food Based Dietary Guidelines in Older Adults in Ireland 2021. The healthy eating food pyramid is the basis for a healthy diet and recognises that consumption of certain food groups needs to be flexible to support individual needs.

Nine main messages emanating from the guidelines

  1. Older adults who are obese with weight-related health problems should receive individual intervention to ensure weight reduction undertaken is beneficial and minimises loss of muscle tissue (slow weight loss with physical activity). Lower risk older adults who are overweight are advised to avoid weight-loss diets to prevent loss of muscle mass.
  2. Older adults at risk of ‘low intake’ dehydration need adequate amount of drinks. Women need 1.6ltrs and males 2ltrs per day (unless a clinical condition exists that requires fluid restriction).
  3. Strong tea should only be consumed between meals and not during meals, as it interferes with the absorption of iron and zinc.
  4. Sense of taste diminishes with age and can lead to increased salt intake; therefore, consumption of salty foods should be avoided and alternatives such as herbs and spices can be used to increase flavour.
  5. To stimulate muscle protein healthy older adults should eat a more protein-dense diet – foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.
  6. Adequate calorie intake to prevent development of frailty, muscle loss (sarcopenia) and undernutrition.
  7. Diets should contain high fibre carbohydrates, but low in free sugars. The average intake of carbohydrates are at the lower end of recommended consumption range whilst one third of older people exceed recommended free sugar intake.
  8. A daily 15 µg Vitamin D supplement is now recommended for all older adults in Ireland. This resource provides specific details on the range of dietary intake recommended for Vitamin D in older adults, which vary according to the ability to obtain some of this vitamin from sunlight exposure.
  9. Fortified foods are a good source of B vitamins (B12, folate, B6 and riboflavin) and vitamin D; whilst unsweetened orange juice, salads, fruit and vegetables are reliable daily food sources of vitamin C.
The Healthy Eating Resources Toolkit includes:
  • Healthy Eating booklet
  • Physical Activity booklet
  • Food Pyramid posters – one simple and one complex
  • A4 Fact sheets – one on each shelf of the Food Pyramid
  • A4 Meal plans – four examples

Information available from the department of health website gov.ie/HealthyEatingOver65. These resources are for healthy older adults living independently at home. Older adults with specific nutritional needs or feeding problems need specific healthcare advice and should link in with their healthcare professional.