Is gaining weight with age normal? Or is it a myth? The simple answer is, it’s a myth! Although people around age 40 might notice some slowing in their energy and metabolism, the real problem is that people don’t make the right lifestyle adjustments as they age. Too often, they eat the same foods they ate in their 20s or early 30s, even as they are less active. Without gradual adjustments to lifestyle, we create the perfect recipe for weight gain and chronic health problems, including inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and more!
Why is food the problem?
We handle junk foods and processed foods less effectively with age, so things like sugar and refined carbs need to be replaced as you get older. Begin to incorporate more healthy, whole foods by age 35 (earlier if you have added weight each year). By cutting back on processed foods, you will digest your food more gradually and keep blood sugar more stable, giving you more sustained energy). Here are some common foods to cut back on as you age:
– Sugar and HFC (high fructose corn syrup) whether in soda, sweetened drinks, candy, cookies, sugary cereals, etc.
– Refined-carbs (bread, crackers, cakes, pretzels, potato or corn chips, etc.).
– Processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, salami, ham, luncheon meats) with nitrates or nitrites.
– Fried foods, trans fats or veggie oils like corn oil, high in inflammatory omega-6 fats.
What do we eat?
With age, we all need to move toward more simple, whole foods and lean proteins into our 40s and beyond. Begin to increase your favorite veggies until they are almost half of your meal plate, along with lean proteins (chicken, fish, seafood, etc.). Include moderate amounts of olive oil, a healthy fat, and all the spices you want to boost flavor. By age 50, veggies should be half your plate (except potatoes or white starches like rice). The varieties, flavors, colors and health benefits of veggies are endless! Eat more whole “power foods” for snacks, such as nuts, veggie sticks, fruits, low-fat cheese, and olives (see links below for more tips). As you age, it’s best to wean yourself from the more inflammatory foods listed above (you can start in your 20s if you want and you’ll be ahead of the game!). You really don’t need those foods; they cause far more problems than they are worth. And they are more expensive because you get little nutrition with junk and processed foods, so you actually pay more compared to better quality, more filling foods. If money is tight, buy things on sale and stock up!
Adjust as you go!
By making small adjustments to your nutrition as you age, the result will be little or no weight gain! Yes, it’s possible to feel full and satisfied, never diet or count calories, and have stable weight into your 40s, 50s and beyond! And although many people blame family history or genetics, your genetics is far less important than your lifestyle choices (see my other articles on Ezine for more on these topics). By choosing less processed, higher quality foods, such as whole fruits, veggies and nuts, you will nourish yourself with great nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. You’ll have more vibrant, healthy energy with less cravings because you’ll have more stable blood sugar and mood! Let your weight be your guide. Are you gaining noticeable weight each year? Are you buying larger jeans and shirts or tops because they are getting too tight? Time to alter your habits a bit! Once you stabilize your blood sugar you will stop gaining weight and then lose if gradually with little effort. And there is no need to diet or restrict calories. Those approaches are doomed to fail because you will slow your metabolism and gain it all back, plus more!
Include fun activity
Of course, being active 3-5 days a week doing things you enjoy is a great approach as well, adding health benefits and contributing to weight loss (even 15 or 20 minutes of brisk walking several days a week counts). So here’s a key point: By eating the right foods and staying active or adding activity, you will stimulate some of those key hormones that tend to fade with age! It’s true! By tweaking your diet and adding fun activity (play with your kids, your dog, do some yard work, walk briskly, etc.), you’ll improve hormones, energy and activate important health genes. You will also turn off disease genes, keeping you healthier with age! The study of epigenetics has uncovered these benefits in recent years. And if you add some weight training, simple exercises and stretching (or Yoga) for 15 minutes a day, you can maintain muscle tone, mass and flexibility. Remember that muscle is the fat-burning engine of your body!
Imagine your future
Most health experts agree that your lifestyle is 70-80% of your health as you age. It’s not your genes! That’s a myth! Imagine, you can have the slender build, flexibility and health you dream of, like you had when you were 25 or 30 (assuming you weren’t overweight). You can keep that youthful build into old age! The power is truly within you! You can have the life and health you want! No matter where you are now, or what health problems you might have, you can enjoy wondrous health and energy again! You can feel great and save money on insurance and drugs, most of which never cure your health problems anyway! As always, working with a qualified health coach will give you an important edge! As a coach, I can help you find the best options for your needs and lifestyle. You have the power to change your future. Why not start today? (By Steve Carney)