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Diets for the Ages

Women's food choices should be keyed to age, lifestyle, and nutritional needs.

Over 60 and Cranking (Not Cranky!)

Exercise is crucial to your independence," says Heller. "You need to keep those legs strong."

"Carry your own groceries!" cries Cross. "You should be picking up your grandchildren, lifting, strengthening muscles. I think people decide they 'shouldn't' long before there is any reason they should not." In the absence of compliant grandchildren, Cross recommends hoisting filled milk jugs -- "A pint's a pound the world around," she chants.

Like babies and teens, older people also need more calcium -- milk, yogurt, green leafies. It sort of comes full circle.

Absorption rates for vitamins may be lower in older people, Heller says. "You may want to take a B-complex and a multivitamin." (The American Medical Association recommends a "multi" for all adults.)

The sense of taste in older people is not as sharp -- so appetite may decline. Kimball suggests older people eat when they are hungriest and concentrate on nutrient-rich dishes. This is also why it's important to stress those beautiful, colorful foods loaded with texture and flavor. The joy of a tomato hot with sun from the garden, a cracker with pungent cheese, a plate of beans and rice perfumed with cilantro. Put on some music. Eat with a friend. Nutrition is more than food.

If you start these habits in your teens or 20s, they will be old hat by your 60s and beyond. "You will never know what troubles you have prevented," Heller says. But you will know the joys of playing with your grandchildren and even great grandchildren -- or taking a cruise to Alaska. The king crab legs are yummy up there.

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