While a well-balanced diet is important at any age, our dietitian tells us why good nutrition is particularly crucial in senior years.

Northern Australia Primary Health Limited (NAPHL) Accredited Practising Dietitian Carla Sommers (pictured) said people are often unaware that healthy eating guidelines change as we age.

“As we get older, we are often less active. This means we often need less kilojoules or energy than in our younger days,” Ms Sommers said.

“Although, it is really important that our food choices are nutrient dense as many of our nutrient requirements remain the same or sometimes increase with age.”

The Townsville dietitian said, as with any healthy eating plan, it is the discretionary foods which are low in nutrients but high in kilojoules that should be limited as we age.


“To ensure nutrient dense foods are being consumed without the excess energy, we recommend limiting discretionary food choices such as soft drinks, processed meats, chips, biscuits and high alcohol beverages.

“Did you know that women who are 51 years or older are recommended to consume four serves of reduced fat dairy to assist in achieving their calcium requirements? This is increased from 2.5 serves for women 50 or younger.

“Similarly, there is an increase in calcium requirements for men who are 70 or older where their recommended reduced fat dairy serves increased from 2.5 (when less than 70 years old) to 3.5 serves.

Ms Sommers said there are three healthy eating guidelines for our older populations:

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drink to meet your energy needs.

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods for the five food groups every day, including:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Grains and cereals
  • Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yoghurt and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat options)
Limit intake of foods and drinks containing fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.