How seniors can maintain a healthy weight
As we age, we become wiser, more patient and often happier. We may also grow a little bit in the middle. While weight gain may be normal as we age, it's still important to monitor closely.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for healthy aging. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and high blood pressure.
For older adults, following nutritious eating patterns can help your body stay as healthy as possible, and certain factors in your day-to-day life can affect your weight. To help you improve your lifestyle as you age, it's important to have a clear understanding of what factors contribute to unhealthy weight gain and what to do about them. This can include:
The distorted part: People always eat more when the portion size is larger. Serving size is not the same as serving size. Use the eyeball method to pay attention to the portion size, and remember to stop when you are full.
Unhealthy stress response: Stress triggers the “fight or flight” response, which leads to the release of two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. According to research published in Obesity, there is a link between high cortisol levels and being overweight. To help manage stress, try to avoid people or situations that cause stress, or change those situations by doing things differently. You can also tune your responses by turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
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mindless eating: When you eat mindlessly, you may not be listening to your body's signals to tell if you're hungry or full. To eat more mindfully, avoid distractions, such as using your smartphone or watching TV, so you can slow down and savor each bite.
lack of sleep: Lack of sleep can affect your hunger hormones, making you feel hungry throughout the day. According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Create a bedtime routine and get rid of distractions before bed.
need more exercise: Exercise has many benefits for your body and mind, including weight control. When you don't get enough, you may gain weight. To exercise safely, go for a walk with a friend, or check to see if your health plan benefits include fitness classes near you.
Recognizing these unhealthy habits and taking proactive steps to combat them can set you up for success and start your weight loss journey. Before you start managing your weight, it's important to set goals and remember to keep them sensible: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Learning more about the ways you can improve your health, such as taking a health education class at your local Humana Neighborhood Center, is another step in the right direction.
Finally, be flexible. If you make a mistake, consider it a learning experience and apply your findings to your plan to prevent future mistakes.
The Humana Neighborhood Center in Knoxville will be hosting a healthy cooking class on Thursday, March 23rd at 2pm. Invite area older adults to learn about the importance of eating properly to maintain a healthy weight. For information on this and other upcoming health and wellness classes offered at the Humana Neighborhood Center, please call 865-329-8892 or visit the Center, 4438 Western Ave. The community is open and does not cost money to make public.
Salae Maxwell is a local health educator at the Knoxville Humana Neighborhood Center.