Healthy Eating

As you get older your tastes and appetites can change – it is still important to follow a eat well and try to maintain a healthy weight. For most people following a healthy, balanced diet will keep you on track.

How much should I eat?

As you get older how much food you need might change – this depends on your age and activity levels. If you notice you are losing or gaining weight you might need to make some changes to your diet or activity levels.

Changes in family circumstances and bereavement can often mean you are cooking for fewer people – it can be difficult to adjust your recipes and portion sizes.

You may not feel like cooking just for yourself, but home-cooked meals are generally healthier, and cheaper, than ready meals.

You could try cooking in batches and freezing leftovers, or planning your meals for the next few days before you go shopping. You could challenge yourself with new recipes – there are lots to be found online!

Shopping Tips

Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. If you plan your meals ahead and try to stick to a shopping list you can sometimes save a few pennies.

  • Remember tinned and frozen fruit and veg is just as good as fresh.
  • Cook in batches and freeze leftovers to use another day.
  • Beware of multi-buys – don’t buy it if you won’t use it, and check the use-by date!
  • Get to know your local fishmonger, butcher and visit local markets – buying local and in-season can often work out cheaper.

It is also handy to know what is in your food – this can be helpful if you are trying to reduce your salt, sugar or fat intake.

Food labels are made to make us want to eat or drink what’s inside – they might not be looking out for your health!

The ingredients list on the back of food is listed in size order, biggest first. Things like sugar can come under lots of different names - sucrose, glucose, fructose, hydrolysed starch, invert name just a few!

This handy food label card can help you quickly see if a food is high or low in sugar, fat and salt - get in touch with Health Improvement if you'd like a card.

Remember packets sometimes tell you how much “per portion” – check if your portion is bigger or smaller than they suggest!

Healthy Bones

As you get older you are at bigger risk of falls and fractures or broken bones. To keep your bones healthy make sure you get enough Calcium and Vitamin D and try to increase your “weight bearing exercise” – anything where you are on your feet, like walking, climbing stairs and dancing.

If you are worried about bone health or have had falls or fractures in the past you can speak to your GP for advice. If you have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis and need mroe information visit the National Osteoporosis Society.

Underweight or Overweight?

Keeping an eye on your weight and waist measurement can be a good early clue that you may need to make some changes.

If you are overweight:

Getting to a healthy weight can help you be more mobile - losing weight and being more active can really help with pain from arthiritis. It also means you are less likely to develop conditions like Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and many cancers. There is more information and help to lose weight online, you can discuss weight loss with your GP, or contact the Health Improvement team to see if you are eligible for Counterweight (a weight loss program).

If you are underweight:

  • You can be at more risk of anaemia (low iron) which can make you feel tired and low on energy.
  • You are at more risk of osteoporosis or your bones may not be as strong.
  • Your immune system won’t be as strong and you will be at more risk of illness and infection.

Gradually gaining weight is the best way to get to a healthy weight – there is advice online, or speak to your GP for help.

If you have been losing weight for no reason or without trying, or are feeling generally unwell, you should contact your GP.


Advice on safe drinking is the same for older adults – you should have no more than 2-3 units per day for women, or 3-4 units per day for men. Everybody should have at least 2 “alcohol-free” days per week.

As you get older your body changes and you might find alcohol affects you differently. Alcohol can affect your decision making, and makes you more likely to have trips, falls and accidents, even in your own home. Try to have something to eat if you are drinking, space your drinks out with soft drinks, and be careful of measures and drink sizes.

If you need any advice about alcohol, or are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking you can get more information online, speak to your GP or contact CADSS (Community Alcohol and Drugs Services Shetland) for information or advice.