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7-Day Meal Plan for Healthy Aging from the Inside-Out – EatingWell

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Though how we age is largely influenced by genetics, there are certain foods, nutrients and lifestyle factors that play a role in how our bodies change as we get older. When we think about aging, often the focus is on external appearances like preventing wrinkles and gray hair. While we completely support sprucing up your outward appearance if that gives you joy, aging well also means keeping our brains sharp, protecting our vision and having strong bones.

In this plan, we focus on healthy aging as a whole package by including foods for smooth skin and glowing hair while also focusing on the internal factors that support healthy aging.

If you’re following this plan to lose weight, we set each day at 1,500 calories, which is a level where most people will lose about 1 pound a week. If you have other goals, we included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.

5 Habits for Healthy Aging

1. Follow the Mediterranean Diet

The nutrient-dense Mediterranean diet has been shown to benefit our health again and again. Not only does it improve heart health and inflammation and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, but the Mediterranean diet is also linked to slower cognitive decline and a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging.

2. Exercise and Strength Train

Of course, any way you can move your body is fantastic, but strength training and impact exercises like jogging or walking are particularly helpful in maintaining bone health and good balance as we age. Low-impact exercises like biking or swimming are helpful, too!

3. De-Stress

Managing stress can play a role in reducing wrinkles and gray hair. Plus, chronic stress can have some serious negative impacts on our overall health.

4. Get Enough Sleep

A 2020 Aging study found that sleeping fewer than five hours a night was associated with twice the risk of developing dementia in people 65 and older compared to sleeping seven to eight hours per night.

5. Up Your Nutrient Intake

Focus on nutrient-rich fruits (berries are especially nutrient-dense), vegetables, proteins, seafood, whole grains and healthy fats found in foods like olive oil, avocados and salmon.

Healthy Aging Foods to Focus On

  • Fish (salmon and tuna, fresh or canned, halibut, haddock, cod and more)
  • Shellfish (such as clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp)
  • Nuts and seeds (including natural peanut butter and other nut or seed butters)
  • Avocado
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Eggs (eat the yolk!)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pomegranate
  • Fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir)
  • Milk (dairy or fortified soy milk)
  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage)
  • Coffee and tea
  • Bone broth
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Carrots
  • Beans (including canned) and lentils

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals

  1. Prepare Sweet Potato, Kale & Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1

Jamie Vespa

Breakfast (317 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (345 calories)

P.M. Snack (110 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (533 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,511 calories, 78g fat, 87g protein, 116g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,032mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumber and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Blueberry & Spinach Smoothie to breakfast, plus add 12 dried walnut halves to the P.M. snack.

Day 2

Carolyn Hodges, M.S., RD

Breakfast (342 calories)

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (445 calories)

P.M. Snack (115 calories)

  • ½ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup raspberries

Dinner (514 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,477 calories, 49g fat, 86g protein, 183g carbohydrate, 33g fiber, 1,360mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change breakfast to 1 serving Raspberry-Kefir Power Smoothie, change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine and omit both the grapes at lunch and the yogurt at the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 30 dry-roasted unsalted almonds to the A.M. snack.

Day 3

Fred Hardy

Breakfast (337 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • ⅓ cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (445 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 10 dried walnut halves

Dinner (451 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,495 calories, 56g fat, 84g protein, 179g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,123mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumber.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 32 dry-roasted unsalted almonds to the A.M. snack, plus add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 4

Casey Barber

Breakfast (342 calories)

A.M. Snack (110 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir

Lunch (445 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (458 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,485 calories, 40g fat, 69g protein, 219g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 1,487mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change breakfast to 1 serving Raspberry-Kefir Power Smoothie, change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries and change the P.M. snack to 1 clementine.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to the A.M. snack.

Day 5

Breakfast (337 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • ⅓ cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (32 calories)

  • ½ cup raspberries

Lunch (445 calories)

P.M. Snack (157 calories)

  • 12 dried walnut halves

Dinner (516 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve 2 servings Chicken & Kale Soup to have for lunch on Days 6 and 7

Daily Totals: 1,487 calories, 78g fat, 91g protein, 119g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,402mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and change the P.M. snack to 1/2 cup blackberries.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to the A.M. snack, increase to 20 dried walnut halves and add 1 medium apple to the P.M. snack, plus add a 1-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Day 6

Breakfast (342 calories)

A.M. Snack (231 calories)

  • 30 dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (366 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (406 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,477 calories, 48g fat, 75g protein, 202g carbohydrate, 41g fiber, 1,293mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 medium bell pepper, sliced, and change the P.M. snack to 1 medium orange.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 18 dried walnut halves to the P.M. snack.

Day 7

Breakfast (317 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (366 calories)

P.M. Snack (110 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (506 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,506 calories, 79g fat, 79g protein, 127g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,702 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumbers and change the P.M. snack to 1/2 cup blackberries.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Blueberry & Spinach Smoothie to breakfast, plus add 1 1/2 tablespoons natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch.

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