Call us now on

0800 201 4811

How To Manage Your Diet In Retirement

Gina Narramore

Gina Narramore



Nutrition and diet plays an integral part in nourishing your body and improving wellness at any age 

Whether you’re 25 or 85, rethinking your diet can come with a wealth of physical and mental benefits that could give you a new lease on life. However, there are many extra demands placed on our bodies as we progress through life and because of this our nutritional needs also change as a result. It is never too late to revamp your nutrition and nurture your body with a healthier diet.  

Read on and discover our tips to help you manage your diet in retirement. 

Never Forget To Eat Breakfast

With so many different foods and eating options available it can be easy to get caught off-guard by fads and trendy diets, but as most doctors would agree, sticking to the food fundamentals is always best.

Recent research even backs up the age-old phrase ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper,’ emphasising the importance of breakfast as the most important meal of the day. This research also found that those who ate their most substantial meal in the morning experienced a significant decrease in BMI and had a better chance of preventing long-term weight gain.

However, it is no secret that as we get older, our appetites diminish which means eating enough calories to ensure we stay nourished and healthy becomes difficult. Eating a healthy and filling breakfast such as porridge, which contains good fats, vitamin B and carbohydrates, not only boosts calorie intake for the day but also fires up your immune system and releases energy slowly, keeping you energised for longer throughout the day.

Lastly, an importantly, during sleep our glucose levels drop, which is essential for brain health and cognitive function. Because of this, when we wake up, we may not be at our sharpest, which can lead to trips and falls. Not only does eating a nutritious breakfast a nutritional breakfast help overcome this, it has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease > and obesity. 

Reduce Your Salt Intake

We all know too much salt is bad for you no matter what your age. Alongside sugar, it is one of the biggest food culprits for unhealthy eating and has been proven to raise blood pressure which can result in a number of illnesses. For instance, according to NHS England, a rise in blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart disease or a stroke. 

With this in mind, you should look to reduce your salt intake where possible. Keep an eye on packaged and ready-made foods as the salt in these can quickly add up to become a problem. Salt has a habit of hiding in foods - ingredients to watch out for include anything with the term ‘sodium’ (sodium chloride, glutamate, phosphate for example), monosodium glutamate (MSG) etc. You can easily substitute high-salt-content foods such as tinned and packet soup, sauces, ready meals, bacon and stock cubes with any reduced-salt options that are available. 

Making a switch in your shopping routine will take time, for example, you will need to initially allow yourself more time for your shopping trips until you establish which brands and foods contain the lowest amount of salt. However, once you have discovered them, your shopping trips will take no longer than usual. 

Tip: Make sure to check labels and traffic light ratings when available too, to help guide your decisions. The Change4Life food scanner app is a great way to check food for sugar, salt and fat content quickly.

Eat More Oily Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish are highly beneficial, helping to protect against heart disease and age-related conditions. 

Research also suggests that oily fish can help lessen symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, Omega-3  can improve eye health, fight inflammation, improve skin and help make you feel more alert and upbeat. 

To increase your intake of omega-3, aim to eat fish at least once a week. Alternatively, take cod liver oil or introduce nuts like chia, flaxseed and walnuts into your diet. Alongside eating fresh fish, you can also look at cheaper options such as tinned mackerel, sardines and kippers for a tasty Omega-3 fix. 

Sugar Switches

Like salt, too much sugar can be detrimental to your health, contributing to conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as weight gain. Unfortunately, in the past few decades the amount of sugar consumed has risen dramatically due to the slew of processed products on the market and artificial sweeteners used in popular foods. 

Recognising the difference between good and bad sugars can help you create a diet for yourself that not only provides you with the optimum energy you require in older age, but also minimises adverse health effects.

Tea itself can be good for you in moderation, however, adding sugar can increase your sugar intake considerably, especially if you go beyond a cup of breakfast tea in the morning. Reducing sugar in your tea or coffee slowly, to enable you to adapt the change in sweetness can make the transition easier – for example, try half a spoon less for a week and see how you get on, then if you feel this is acceptable, reduce further. 

It is also important to note that other drinks, such as flavoured water and fruit juices also have quite a bit of sugar. You could be getting close to your total caloric intake for the day, almost all from sugar.

Lastly, just as with salt, be aware of hidden sugars in the foods you eat. There are a number of dairy products, smoothies, dressings, condiments and processed foods that have much more sugar in them than you may think. It is crucial to read labels to ensure foods are as healthy as they seem and that there are no hidden sugars lurking in the item.

Tip: Consider replacing sugar with cinnamon. Cinnamon has proven to be somewhat of a super spice in recent times, offering health benefits including an ability to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism. Scientific research has even found it to lower blood glucose in people with diabetes. Better still, cinnamon can fulfil a sugar craving thanks to its sweet flavour.

This natural sugar substitute also has the power to regulate (and reduce) blood sugar levels, making it particularly helpful for those who have diabetes. Try it sprinkled over porridge, cereal, coffee or hot chocolate.

Get To Grips With Superfoods

Many people associate the word ‘superfood’ with millennial's and their need to share photos online of their over over-complicated meals with expensive ingredients. But did you know that you can buy many superfoods in most supermarkets relatively cheap and they can hugely benefit you in older age as they provide important nutrients and nutrients important for aging brains and bodies.  

Blueberries, spinach, tomatoes, kale and legumes such as chickpeas are readily available at most supermarkets and are some of the best superfoods for your system

Blueberries are high in antioxidants that can help destroy damaging free radicals and are an excellent topper for yogurt, porridge or oats. Spinach is full of iron, vitamin C, minerals, phytochemicals (plant compounds) and antioxidants that can protect eyesight. 

Sweet potatoes are one of the most versatile and healthy vegetables available for good senior nutrition. Not only are they an outstanding source of beta-carotene, an important carotenoid, they are also bursting with potassium, an essential mineral for older men's health, and have a low glycemic index (GI), reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes. They are good sources of the anti-inflammatory nutrients, vitamins A and C, making them an excellent food choice for those suffering from arthritis or asthma. Try them steamed, mashed or roasted in their jackets with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.

Furthermore, kale will provide you with the recommended daily vitamin C amount in just 50g, while legumes are high in iron, protein and can even leave you feeling fuller for longer.

Try this Puy Lentils with Feta and Roasted Tomatoes recipe for a vitamin-rich, easy dinner.

Sharing Is Caring

A weekly meal with friends at home will create a great surrounding to develop a healthier relationship with food, save money (if you all pitch in for ingredients), and give you the opportunity to try out some new recipes. It also provides a great social setting to catch up and chat. 

It’s also a brilliant way to change your relationship with what you eat, as it can offer you a comfortable space in which to dine and opportunities to be more mindful of food. For example, if you tend to overeat, chatting with friends will provide you with a great distraction that may reduce the amount of food you would eat if you were alone.

McCarthy & Stone retirement developments can also make finding new friends, and potential dinner dates even easier, by placing you in the heart of a like-minded community.

Maintain Your Bone Health

As we get older, bone density reduces which makes taking care of your bones hugely important. Alongside low impact exercises and any advice given by a doctor, maintaining proper levels of calcium can develop bone strength and protect against osteoporosis. Our bones store up to 99.9% of the calcium your body needs for every function. Your best sources for calcium are seeds – a tiny nutritional powerhouse, beans and lentils, leafy greens and dairy products such as cheese or milk. 

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium so is essential to maintain optimum bone health. Although our bodies produce the majority of vitamin D through exposure to the sun, in the UK, between October to March, we do not get enough vitamin D from the sun and many of us are deficient. This makes supplementation vital for optimum health and wellbeing. 

Up Your Fibre Intake

Fibre is a crucial element of any senior’s diet. Increasing the amount of fibre you eat can lead to better digestion and a healthier, more effective digestive system. Eating high fibre foods like beans, oats, barley, almonds, and walnuts can also help lower cholesterol.  

Not only is fibre found in fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, grains, nuts, and seeds, adding more fibre to your diet can quickly be done by simply switching your usual foods for those with higher fibre content. For example, swapping corn flakes for granola or bran flakes, white bread for wholegrain and keeping your potato skins on when cooking are just a few cheap and effective ways to achieve this.

Try ‘Meat Free Monday’

Launched by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, “Meat Free Monday is a not-for-profit campaign which aims to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat, and to encourage people to help slow climate change, conserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week.”

According to the Meat Free Mondays website, “Many of the world’s leading health organisations now encourage a reduction in the amount of meat people consume. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends we “choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat”. In 2010, a study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from stroke, as well as save the NHS £1.2 billion in costs each year. Former chief scientific officer Sir Liam Donaldson has said that reducing the UK’s consumption of animal products by 30 per cent [by 2030] would prevent 18,000 premature deaths every year.”

Meat free Mondays are a tasty way to increase your vegetable intake and give your body a break from meat.

At the same time, try reducing the amount of red meat that you consume and in particular cut down on liver and kidneys. Liver, in particular, can increase the body’s production of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can lead to an increased risk of weaker bones. So, with this in mind, avoid eating too much liver or liver products such as pate (or only eat small amounts).

Don’t Forget To Stay Hydrated

Often overlooked when it comes to a person's diet, fluids are one of the most important factors in maintaining good health. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to remind yourself to drink regularly, and aim to do this at least six times a day. Although you can include drinks like low-fat milk, tea and low-sugar alternatives in your fluid intake, water is the best form of hydration.

Among other benefits, water will help prevent dehydration, improve brain function, help increase energy levels and aid digestion.

Aging is linked to a variety of changes, including nutrient deficiencies, decreased quality of life and poor health outcomes which means eating healthy becomes especially important as we get older. Luckily, there are things you can do to help prevent deficiencies and other age-related changes but with all the above, it’s also pivotal to remember that when it comes to changing your diet and your approach to eating during retirement, listening to your body is perhaps the most important thing to do. 

Take note of any positive and negative reactions to food and instead of sticking to the routines that you may have had when you were younger, adapt to your new needs and make the most of our suggested approaches. You may find it’s the best you’ve felt yet!

Like this article? Subscribe to receive updates...
Subscribe to receive notifications when we post new articles to our online magazine.
By subscribing to these updates you’re agreeing to receive email updates when new articles are published to the McCarthy & Stone online magazine.
We’ll never send you spam or sell your details. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Related Articles


Working After Retirement – Is It For You?

More and more people are choosing to put off their retirement and continue working. Plus, in many other cases, those who have already retired are looking to return to work. Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of each situation. ...Read more


How To Make New Friends In Retirement

Friendship is hugely important at every stage in life, and retirement is no exception. What’s more, in retirement you could make the most of the extra free time you have to discover different experiences and meet new people – leading to new friendships and relationships.  ...Read more


Sheffield – The Steel Centre of the World

Famed for its industry and innovation, the green, modern cityscape now replaces the smoking chimneys from the industrial revolution. There’s a friendly, independent and alternative spirit that can be hard to find in other cities alongside a thriving cultural scene. ...Read more


Wally & The Flying Scotsman

Popular North Gate Court customer Wally Blazey moved into their McCarthy & Stone apartment with his wife Gladys seven months ago, and the couple have just celebrated their 72nd anniversary. At 92, Wally is one of the two last surviving drivers of the Flying Scotsman, the most famous steam locomotive in the world. ...Read more


The Top 11 British Hidden Gems

Where are the best locations in the UK to visit... that you've probably not heard of? We've ranked the best hidden gems around Britain, that are easy to access, and offer a great weekend away with the family. ...Read more


Do Pets Make You Happier?

Whether you're a pet owner or have a pet free home, animals of all kinds have been proven to improve the happiness of their human counterparts. To find out more McCarthy & Stone conducted a survey to see how pets enrich their owners lives. Here are the results! ...Read more


Let’s Dance 

It’s sociable and fun, and it’s good for your health and your brain – time to put on your dancing shoes  ...Read more


The Thought Behind Your Home

Prospective homeowners will be delighted to know all aspects of their new living space – including the communal areas – have been considered during the design process, helping to make their lives more comfortable and a little easier  ...Read more


Making your memories last forever

It’s never been easier to keep your most precious memories alive. From personalised photo albums and keepsakes to specially commissioned biographies and films, there are many ways to create a very special legacy – and have a lot of fun while you’re doing it. Here are a few ideas to inspire you  ...Read more


5 Recipes For A Royal Wedding

We look into the perfect recipes to pair with a royal wedding. We've picked out the most delicious, as well as the quintessentially British for the special occasion! ...Read more


The Best Golf Courses in the UK

Now is a great opportunity to get out on the fairway and get practising. We've looked into some of the best golf courses in the UK, including golf courses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to get you ready and eager to tee off this spring and summer. ...Read more


Small is Beautiful - Balcony Gardening

Creating a beautiful outdoor space on a balcony can bring a lot of pleasure to you and your visitors for minimum effort. Balcony gardening offers the joy of plants but without the work that usually goes with a garden – you shouldn’t have to do much weeding for a start, you won’t get slugs, and there’s no lawn to worry about! ...Read more


Advice For Low Maintenance Gardening

Let’s be honest, we’d all love a gorgeous garden that would blossom with just the wave of a weed-wand. But I can’t be the only one who finds that a few minutes pottering turns into hours of pruning, trimming and raking at times.  ...Read more


Great British Outdoor Experiences the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Finding an activity that the whole family can enjoy together can sometimes feel like a tall order, especially amongst the hectic schedules of our day to day lives. However, spending time together in the great outdoors is the perfect way to leave behind those digital distractions and create some precious family memories that will last a lifetime. ...Read more


Inspirational Retirement Stories

You may wonder just how you will spend your retirement or worry that you will not find enough activities to fill your time. This can be far from the truth, these active retirees share their inspirational retirement stories  ...Read more


How Do You Want To Live Your Life?

Enjoying a fulfilling retirement isn’t just about where you live. How you live plays an equally important role when it comes to getting the most out of what ought to be an extremely rewarding time of life.  ...Read more


Dating for over 50s: how to find love in later life

Love in later life can seem daunting. If you’ve been married for some years and are recently divorced or widowed, looking for love is a whole lot different today than it was back when you were young. But that’s no reason to be put off – you’re never too old to fall in love! ...Read more


Behind the Scenes

There’s a vast team working all year round at McCarthy & Stone to make sure that every homeowner in every development receives the best of the best. Here we talk to three of them… ...Read more


How we help every step of the way

McCarthy & Stone knows that communication is key when it comes to making a decision as big as moving into a retirement development, which is why it has staff ready to talk through the process, says Rachel Halliwell ...Read more


Return of the Spider Plant

Remember when trailing greenery hung from macramé pot holders in every bay window in the country? Well, the good news is house plants are back in vogue. Here’s how to make the most of them ...Read more


Inspirational Generation

Are you member of the Inspirational Generation? We want to hear your stories. Enter our competition and tell us why - you could be in with the chance of winning £2,000! ...Read more


Starting a new chapter in your life

Many people feel apprehensive about selling their family home, says Rachel Halliwell. Yet McCarthy & Stone managers see the worry and weight being lifted from the shoulders of homeowners once they move in. It’s like being on a permanent luxury holiday, said one ...Read more


What we don't miss about being younger

The study by leading retirement housebuilder, McCarthy and Stone, reveals sitting exams, enduring the daily commute and the stress of running a family, are among some of the things the older generation DO NOT miss about being younger. ...Read more


The Teams Behind the Scenes

McCarthy & Stone has a vast team working round the clock to make sure that every homeowner in every development receives the best of the best. Here, we talk to three of the key players...

...Read more


Behind the scenes: Interior design

A lot of work and careful planning goes into creating the beautiful interiors of a McCarthy & Stone development. Interior designer Hannah Gernon explains how she arrives at the finished results ...Read more


Childhood memories at Waverley House

Mary Kent lived at the first McCarthy & Stone Development to be built, Waverley House in New Milton. Here, her granddaughter Tania Harland shares wonderful childhood memories of spending time there, which inspired her to work for McCarthy & Stone when a job opportunity came up 10 years ago. ...Read more


5 gardening tools for the elderly

Whether you've been a gardening enthusiast for years or only recently discovered the joys of green fingers, getting your hands dirty in the garden can become more difficult in later life. We look at tools that can make this hobby easier. ...Read more



Come to GrandFest and join us throughout June and July for a celebration of heritage skills in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service. ...Read more


A Date To Remember: 1977

It was a year of social unrest, high inflation, patriotism and punk rock. It was also the year that John McCarthy and Bill Stone built their first retirement apartments. As McCarthy & Stone celebrates its 40th anniversary, we take a look back at the highs and lows of 1977. ...Read more


40 Years On...

Celebrate 40 years of retirement living solutions with McCarthy & Stone. Discover how we are commemorating this special event here! ...Read more


Finding Love In Later Life

They'd both lost their partners 9 years ago and moved to a McCarthy & Stone development, but little did Ann and Robin know they were about to start something very special...

...Read more


Frontline Extra

We are excited about the next few months! Mother’s Day, the feel good movie of the year could well be perfect for your mom this Mother's Day! ...Read more


Finding love

Meeting someone new in later life, for companionship and love, can seem impossible, but these couples show that it can happen! ...Read more