3 Square Meals A Day
If you are like me, you not only eat to live but you also live to eat! Ideally, we all want to achieve good health, draw pleasure from eating and express our cultural heritage1. However, as we retire and begin to age past 70, it is not uncommon for adults to eat less and/or change their “traditional” eating patterns.
As we age, it is normal for us to have lower food intake. Many times, this reduction isn’t a conscious choice but one that occurs due to changes in schedules, sleeping patterns and appetite. However, we all must be careful that we don’t drop off our intake to a point that we impact our health negatively. Reducing intake to below ~1000 calories can make it difficult to meet all the recommended vitamin and minerals needed in a healthy diet.
Eating “3 Square Meals a Day” can help us combat this natural reduction in intake that normally occurs in our later years. Interestingly, a study2 of centenarians indicated that the healthiest centenarians did not reduce their food intake after 70 like many other older adults AND these centenarians continued to eat three balanced meals a day throughout their later years!!
In practice, I notice that my patients seem to eat marvelous breakfasts but their meal intake drops off later in the day. It isn’t uncommon for me to find that breakfast may contribute around 25-30% of the person’s total energy for the day. However, when I begin to ask about lunch and dinner, I notice that things get a bit more complicated. It seems, at least here in North Carolina, that lunch is often skipped while dinner is consumed more regularly. Of course, skipping meals also means missed nutrients and energy that contributes to an active and successful day at peak performance.
Therefore, as I (and my students) begin this blog, I hope that we will all focus on eating “3 Square Meals a Day” and begin to think about how this will help us become active, healthy older adults that not only eat to live and live to eat!!
1 Kuczmarski et al. Nutrition in Aging, McGraw Hill, 1999.
2 Johnson et al. Nutrition Patterns of Centenarians, Inter. J. Aging Hum. Develop. 34 (1): 57, 1992.