The older you get, the more you realize that the meals you had growing up were maybe not so bad after all.
While Mom may not have had the resources about nutrition that are available to you today, especially via the internet, she really did know her stuff when you think about it. So, where did Mom learn about the types of foods that make up the food pyramid – perhaps in her home economics class? If you look back on meals when you were a youngster versus the suggested food groups to include in your daily diet, you might just concede that Mom was a smarter cookie than you ever gave her credit for.
For example, she filled your tummy with nutritious food, based on the five recommended food groups, a chart which really has not varied much through the years, and which guidelines are currently found at www.choosemyplate.gov and are listed below:
- Vegetables (including legumes/beans);
- Fruits (all fruits and juices);
- Grains (mostly wholegrain and/or high-fiber cereal and bread);
- Protein (lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts/seeds and legumes/beans); and
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat).
Indeed you are what you eat, and a diet consisting of these foods will give you the nutrition needed to stay healthy from youth to old age.
Dairy is full of Calcium
The last category in the food groups, the dairy products, were very important to your health growing up. If you have strong teeth and healthy bones, go ahead and thank your Mom for looking out for you in that regard. It’s a good thing she insisted on that glass of milk with dinner every night.
Eating a lot of dairy products encourages strong bones – any dentist in New Jersey will concur. Consumption of dairy products is crucial at any age, but, especially for the elderly, since their sense of balance is not as good when you are older, and you become more susceptible to falls. Thus, the stronger your bones are, the more resilient you become to the devastation that could occur if you take a bad tumble. Did you know that each year, millions of older people – those 65 and older – have a bad fall? These tumbles usually occur in the home, and many older people never completely recover from a bad fall. They may end up leaving their beloved home and living in assisted living instead. Eating more dairy products will help thwart the dreaded hunchback of osteoporosis as well.
The consumption of dairy products benefit the teeth, whether you are a growing child or an adult. Taking care of your teeth throughout your life has many benefits, the most important of which is the chance to keep your own teeth for as long as possible. Often, for the elderly, who may not have had access to as many dental visits, or fluoridation treatments in the water, or even toothpaste geared to combat tooth decay, now suffer with decayed or missing teeth. Over the years, for many people, there may have been no dental insurance or money was scarce and the easy solution for missing teeth became bridgework, or eventually dentures. Now, our dentists encourage us to take care of our teeth, so that they will last us for a long time, and we do not need to resort to porcelain teeth in order to smile and chew our food.
Enhance Your Diet
Learning to love dairy products at an early age will help build strong teeth and bones. For those who may suffer from lactose intolerance, there are solutions to get the needed calcium in your diet, even by resorting to lactase enzyme supplements to allow you to enjoy dairy products. (And, you may resort to veggies like kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach, all which have a hefty dose of calcium per serving.)
It is very easy to enjoy dairy products today. While you may have had milk as your only dairy option growing up, today there are many ways to encourage young folks to get dairy products into their diet. Recently the health guidelines said it was acceptable to have whole milk products – that opened up a whole new world for those who had been suffering with no-fat cheese slices that tasted like cardboard, or milk that looked like white water. Now, it is considered healthy to enjoy that 4% cottage cheese – yay, because it has some oomph to it, unlike that watery variety you’ve endured for years. So, get rid of those fake cheese slices, and enjoy a slice of real Swiss cheese – you cannot go wrong as the sodium count on real Swiss cheese cannot be beat. Yogurt is no longer something that looks like curdled milk, because you may enjoy Greek or regular varieties, or squeezable or drinkable yogurt. Even chocolate milk, sweetened or unsweetened, has been given a stamp of approval as an acceptable drink to have after vigorous exercise as opposed to just water or those sugar-laden exercise drinks.