Nutrition for older people

Appetite for Life

Nutrition for older people

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Eating well is very important as you get older to help you stay healthy and strong. Here are some tips to help you eat well.

Eat at least three meals a day

  • Try to include foods from all five food groups every day:
    • grain (cereal) foods
    • vegetables
    • fruit
    • dairy foods
    • lean meat and meat alternatives.
  • Don’t skip meals – make sure you have breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
  • Have snacks as well if you have lost weight or your meals are small.

Eat at least three serves of grain (cereal) foods a day

Choose mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties. One serve of grain food is:

  • a slice of bread or a crumpet
  • half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles
  • half a cup of cooked porridge or 2/3 cup of breakfast cereal
  • three crispbreads.

Eat two serves of fruit a day

Choose mostly fresh fruit or tinned fruit in natural juice. One serve of fruit is:

  • a medium piece (for example apple or banana) or two small pieces (for example apricot or kiwi)
  • a cup of tinned fruit
  • half a cup of fruit juice or a small handful (30g) of dried fruit.

Eat five serves of vegetables a day

One serve of vegetables is:

  • half a cup of cooked vegetables
  • a cup of salad vegetables
  • half a cup of cooked legumes or beans, including baked beans
  • half a medium potato or sweet potato.

Have at least three serves of dairy a day

One serve of dairy is:

  • a cup of milk (250ml)
  • a cup (250ml) of soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml
  • a small tub of yoghurt or a cup of custard
  • two slices of cheese.

Eat at least two serves of meat or alternatives a day

One serve of meat or meat alternatives is:

  • a piece of lean meat or chicken the size of your palm. This is about 90-100g (before it's cooked)
  • a piece of fish the size of your hand. This is about 115g (before it's cooked) or a small tin of fish
  • two large eggs
  • a cup of cooked dried beans, lentils, chickpeas or tinned beans
  • a small handful (30g) of nuts or seeds, or a tablespoon of nut paste like peanut butter.

Drink plenty of fluid everyday

You will need to drink more if you’re being active or it’s a hot day. Aim for at least eight glasses a day.

  • Water is best because it is healthy, cheap and easy to get.
  • Other fluids include milk, tea, coffee, juice, soup, custard or jelly.

This general advice was accurate at the time of publication (June 2020). For more information about nutrition and your individual needs, see your GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.