March 02, 2015


Can you really be healthy at any age?  When does good health start?

I get asked questions about good health and nutrition all the time.  I hear people of all ages say things like, “I’m still young I can eat whatever I want.” Or “My doctor says I need to lose weight but, I’m too old to start eating healthy.” The list goes on and on. So the question we need to ask,” Is there a diet that is sensible and sustainable throughout our lifetime?

The answer is quite simple and you might not like what I am going to say, but the answer is probably not.

Gary Appelsies

Gary Appelsies, MS, CHHC, AADP – Director of Healthy Eating, YMCA of Central Florida

You see the fact is that as we grow and age, as our bodies change, we need to eat differently.  Now, I won’t sit here and say that we need to eat junk food.  It all comes down to good quality, REAL food.  If we start our children on processed foods and junk we start to guide them to a life of the Standard American Diet. A diet rich in processed foods, devoid of essential minerals and nutrients. When we start a child in a lifestyle of foods which are nutritionally dense and alive we start them off on a road of good health and great quality of life.  Remember real food is full of life and life force energy that. Our body and our cells know how to break that down and use it for good. It helps our bodies to fight disease, heal and stay healthy. 

So is there nutrition that is specific to age?  That depends on you.  Remember everyone is different, every ones bodies are different. Fear not though, I have some general tips to help you through.

Infants: Food provides the energy and nutrients that babies need to be healthy. For a baby, breast milk is best. It has all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Infant formulas are available for babies whose mothers are not able or decide not to breastfeed.

Toddlers: Food provides the energy and nutrients that young children need to be healthy. Toddlers are learning to feed themselves and to eat new foods. They should eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups.

Each day, toddlers need enough nutrients, including iron, and calcium.

Children: A healthy diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent obesity and weight-related diseases, such as diabetes. To give your child a nutritious diet:

  • Make half of what is on your child’s plate fruits and vegetables
  • Choose healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts, fish and eggs
  • Serve whole-grain breads and cereals because they are high in fiber. Reduce refined grains.
  • Broil, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them
  • Limit fast food and junk food
  • Offer water or milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas
  • Keep sugar to a minimum

Adolescents/Teens: As a teenager, your body begins to through many changes. Along with these changes, they are probably becoming more independent and making more of their own choices. Some of the biggest choices they face are about their health and the types of food they put into their body.

Remind them that eating a healthy diet and being physically active, can help them feel good, look good, and do their best in school, work, or sports. It may also prevent diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and some cancers when they are older.

Adults: As adults if we have eaten healthy up to this point our bodies crave nutrients. Here in adult hood it becomes a little tricky. Men and Women’s crave different types of nutrition and different stages. But the general rule of thumb is to listen to your body, learn what your body needs. Keep up your physical activity and continue to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.  Keep Hydrated and you will age gracefully.

Seniors: As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food. To get them:

  • Choose a variety of healthy foods
  • Avoid empty calories, these are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients, such as chips, cookies, soda and alcohol

Remember Food provides the energy and nutrients you need to be healthy. Your body will thank you if take care of it. It is true what they say. You are what you eat, and an apple a day keeps the doctor away.