It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age. One of the most noticeable changes is often our weight. Have you found yourself gaining or even losing weight without changing your diet or eating habits? This is common among older adults, but it’s definitely something you need to monitor. For seniors, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. It helps you to live a long and healthy life.
Your weight directly impacts your overall health. This is why it’s important to keep a close eye on it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maintain a healthy weight. But first, we need to discuss what exactly constitutes a healthy weight.
What’s Considered a Healthy Weight for Seniors?
No two people are the same, and no two people should be expected to weigh the same. However, a standard method used to determine a benchmark for being underweight, healthy, and overweight is calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). You calculate your BMI using your height and weight. You divide your height in inches by weight. There are several online BMI calculators that can be easily used to determine your suggested BMI.
Although BMI has been a reliable way to determine a healthy weight among individuals, it’s not always the most important factor to consider. BMI compares apples to apples, and as previously stated, no two people are the same. And as we age, other factors begin to come into play, such as gender, age, and specific health conditions.
A recent meta-analysis of almost 200,000 adults over 65 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that adult BMI ranges might not apply in the same way to seniors. For example, being underweight was more closely linked with the risk of death, whereas obesity was not.
The best way to determine what a healthy weight should be for you is to discuss it with your primary care provider. Your weight could be a symptom of an underlying condition. Your provider will take into consideration any known conditions or illnesses that could factor into what your weight should be. And then, together, you can discuss weight management strategies.
Reasons for Fluctuating Weight
Older adults often find it difficult to sustain a steady weight. This can be attributed to many reasons.
Common reasons for weight loss after the age of 65 can include:
- Heart problems
- Kidney disease
- Medication side effects
- Change in homelife, lack of meal preparation
Common causes for weight gain after the age of 65 can include:
- Loss of muscle mass, resulting in a decrease in the number of calories burned
- Lack of exercises
- Hormone changes
Tips to Maintain a Healthy Weight
Trying to lose or gain weight as an older adult can be frustrating. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t always respond as they once did. There is no one approach to weight loss that will work for everyone,” says Dr. Sylvia Boloczko from VIPcare Mt. Dora. “Best is an individual approach and can include dietary modifications, which may include caloric restriction, low carb or keto, meal replacements, and intermittent fasting, depending on the individual, behavioral changes, focus on physical activity, and in some cases, the addition of weight loss medications may be appropriate.”
Here are some tips to help you keep your weight healthy and under control.
Set realistic goals – Whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight, you need to set some realistic goals. There’s no way you can healthily gain or lose 10 pounds in a week. So always discuss your weight management goals with your doctor and accept that it will take time to reach them.
Examine your eating habits – Eating three meals a day at the same time may not work for you and your body anymore. Instead, consider eating small meals more frequently. Find what works for you, your body, and your lifestyle.
Eat more nutritious foods – When planning your meals, select recipes and dishes full of nutrient-rich foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables and opt for lean protein. Try syncing your produce with the growing season. When foods are in season, they are truly at their best, and you’ll get the most out of them taste and nutrition-wise.
Avoid empty calories – Many of us like to snack, which is fine, but snacking on empty calories is not. Of course, you can cheat every now and then, but try to avoid the mindless eating of junk, such as chips, cookies, and other likened treats high in sugar and fat.
Get and stay moving – It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose or gain weight; you must stay physically active. Walking just a little can help you burn calories and build muscle and strength. Find activities you enjoy doing; that way, it won’t seem like such a chore.
It’s vital that you make your weight a priority, however, not to the point that you’re stressed and anxious over it. Just be mindful of it. Talk to your doctor. Set goals. And stick to them. Your weight can help combat many other issues that tend to arise with age. But by simply eating healthy and staying active, you can stay ahead and healthily manage your weight.