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Medicare Savings Program
You Are What You Eat

Remember that old saying, “You are what you eat?” Healthy food equals good health. That’s especially true when you’re older than 65.

Compared to younger adults, older adults don’t need as many calories. But they do need foods with more nutrients, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eating better and exercise help manage chronic health conditions and keep lean muscle mass. Healthy eating can also help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention help prevent at least 13 types of cancer, including uterine, breast and colon.

Quick diet quiz

“Unhealthy diet” offenders are foods low in fiber. Or high in sodium or saturated fats, sugar-sweetened drinks, processed food, and red and processed meats.

So how healthy is your diet? Try this easy quiz adapted from the American Cancer Society.

  • Do I eat a variety of vegetables and fruit every day?
  • Do I eat whole-grain bread, pasta and cereal instead of white bread, pasta and cereal?
  • Do I choose food and drinks low in calories and added sugar?
  • Do I rarely (or never) eat red meat or processed meat like bacon, hot dogs or sausage?
  • Do I take it easy on high-calorie baked goods such as pies, cakes, cookies, sweet rolls and donuts?
  • Do I rarely add butter, margarine, oil, sour cream or mayonnaise to foods I’m cooking or eating?
  • Do I rarely eat fried foods?
  • Do I never or rarely drink alcohol?

If you answer “yes” to 6 to 8 questions, you’re making healthy choices. If not, try thinking about one easy change to add more nutrition to your diet. You can try:

  • Shopping smarter. Make a list of ingredients for a week’s worth of meals.
  • Adding seafood, dairy, fortified soy alternatives, beans, peas or lentils to your diet. They’re great protein sources but also have added nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and fiber.
  • Choosing whole-grain breakfast cereal to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12.
  • Drinking water, unsweetened juices, low-fat or fat-free milk or fortified soy beverages with every meal. And drink throughout the day to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
  • When you’re older, you may feel the effects of alcohol more quickly, putting you at risk for falls. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests men have 2 drinks or less a day and women have 1 drink or less.
  • Adding sliced or chopped fruits and vegetables to meals or snacks. Cook frozen mixed vegetables in the microwave and add them into a bowl of pasta and sauce.


Medicare offers resources that can help.

If you have diabetes…

Medicare covers outpatient diabetes self-management training. It includes tips for healthy eating and exercise.

If you have diabetes, kidney disease or have had a kidney transplant in the last 36 months…

Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy services. You’ll get a nutrition and lifestyle assessment, nutritional therapy services, help managing lifestyle factors that affect your chronic condition, and follow-up visits.

If you have a body mass index of 30 or more…

Medicare covers obesity screenings and behavioral counseling. These help manage your weight through diet and exercise.

Other resources include:

Dig in

Medicare Advantage plans may cover meal delivery, nutrition services and more. To help you dig in and get the most out of your health plan, call today the Medicare Support Center at CVS licensed insurance agents.

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MR929 8/2023