Are Fad Diets Healthy for Seniors?

The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight, especially if you’re a woman. So many Kansas City seniors turn to “fad diets” to try to take off the excess pounds. But are those diets healthy?

Fad diets promise dramatic weight loss, and may or may not work in the short term. But they’re not sustainable long term, so even if you do lose the weight, you’ll probably gain it right back.

And, as you may have already guessed, fad diets are not healthy for seniors. Here’s why:

  • Diets that restrict carbohydrates or require fasting can cause your blood sugar to drop. And if you’re taking medication to reduce your blood sugar, it could get dangerously low if your medication isn’t adjusted accordingly.
  • Some high-protein diets allow unlimited fats. Too much fat in your diet can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Fad diets sometimes eliminate entire food groups to help you lose weight (e.g., meat, dairy, grains). If you’re not getting food from all the food groups, you may become low on nutrients that are essential for good health.

So, what can seniors do to lose weight and still stay healthy? Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus on nutrients:
    • The older you get, the less calories you need. But you also need more nutrients. So concentrate on eating more foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Some examples are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds.
    • Cut back on foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods completely, but you’ll need to eat them in moderation if you want to lose weight. Examples of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods include desserts; sugary drinks; and white bread, rice, or pasta.
  • Control portions:
    • Use a smaller plate. Dinner-size plates can hold a lot of food, so using a smaller plate can help with portion control.
    • Read food labels. See how many portions are in each package and make sure you’re not eating more than one at a time.
    • Cook meals ahead of time and freeze them in one-portion containers to re-heat when you don’t feel like cooking. Use a scale or measuring cups to make sure your portions are the right size.
    • Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer. While distracted, you may end up eating more than you’d planned.
  • Get help with meal preparation. If you have a tough time preparing your own meals, enlist the help of a caregiver orĀ Kansas City home health agency.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise can not only help you control weight, but can also help you with balance and flexibility. You’ll need to do both aerobic exercise and exercises that will strengthen your muscles. If you need assistance, try joining a Kansas City gym or local senior center.

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