Commentary by Tasha K. Lane
As we grow older, our bodies go through many changes, whether through natural development or states of illness or injury. Some of these changes can impact how we consume food. I hear from a lot of my older clients that they just “aren’t hungry.” As a trainer and a RD2B (registered dietitian to be), this concerns me. A decrease in food intake can mean unintended weight loss which can lead to malnutrition-related risk factors such as bone density loss, muscle loss, and lack of energy.
There are many reasons why you may not feel hungry. It could simply be due to the aging process. For example, the body does not send out the same appetite-stimulating hormones that it when you were younger. In addition, diminished taste or smell, declining oral health, and some medications that come with treating an age-related problem can affect your hunger and increase risk of inadequate intake.
What do you do if you just aren’t hungry? Here are a few tips that may help you eat more food throughout your day.
1. Eat something within an hour to an hour and a half after waking to kick start your metabolism.
2. Eat a little bit of something every 3 to 4 hours. This way, you can eat smaller amounts and still get in the necessary vitamins, nutrients, and calories.
3. Use herbs and seasonings besides just salt to help increase the flavor of foods.
4. If possible, limit the amount of fluid you drink with meals. This ensures you have more room for food when you eat. Use the time between meals to increase your fluid intake.
5. Avoid empty calorie foods that provide little nutrition and focus on nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
6. Add a calorie-dense shake or smoothie around mealtime.
7. Most importantly, stay active! Increased activity increases hunger hormones.
Staying active and eating healthy are key to an active and fit lifestyle. Together, they help your body remain strong, prevent falls and maintain balance and mobility. When thinking about foods, remember that all foods fit. in general, if something sounds good, eat it with moderation in mind. Remember, some medications and medical conditions have nutritional guidelines. Please check with your medical provider if you have any concerns or questions about the appropriateness of certain foods.
Lane, a Motion 4 Life Fitness employee, is a registered dietitian to be and National Academy of Sports Medicine/Certified Public Trainer.