Improve Your Health With Better Choices

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Healthy eating and good nutrition can improve your health and keep you functioning independently. Yet, only 25% of older adults are eating a well-balanced diet. There are many factors that can affect how we eat. For example, your sense of taste and smell may change as you age, making food less appetizing. Medications can decrease appetite and cause dry mouth making it difficult to swallow. Dental problems can make it difficult or painful to chew, keeping you from eating healthy foods. Some people have trouble finding a ride to the store or may not have enough money for groceries.

Poor nutrition can increase your risk of getting infections and can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol. People who are malnourished make more visits to doctors, hospitals, and emergency rooms, and they stay in the hospital twice as long as well-nourished people. Sometimes symptoms of poor nutrition, such as confusion and disorientation, can be mistaken for signs of dementia.

The good news is there are many ways to improve your diet. Small changes can make eating easier. When you swap out the saltshaker for some herbs and spices, your salt intake decreases and the taste of your food improves. Adding some liquid to vegetables and cooking them until they’re tender, even mashing them, will make it easier if you have problems chewing and swallowing. There are ways to cut back on high cost grocery items like meat while still getting enough protein and nutrition.

Interested in learning more about eating well and shopping smart? Better Choices, a Steps to Health program created for limited resource audiences, might be just what you’re looking for. The free, eight-class series reviews ways to improve your overall diet while saving money. You will have many opportunities to taste new foods and receive easy, low-cost recipes to make at home.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County will offer the Better Choices program at The Enrichment Center of Lee County on Thursdays, beginning March 16, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. This class will meet weekly at this time on Thursdays for the following 8 weeks. To sign-up, call The Enrichment Center of Lee County at 919-776-0501.

Steps to Health is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) program developed and administered by North Carolina State University and federally funded through the USDA.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN, at 919-775-5624.