What you should eat when you are 50+
Whatever the f*@% you want! And then add a cherry on top of that to spite the naysayers.
After a pregnant pause, you ask “Well, do you have any nutritional recommendations for people ages 50+?”
Sure, but first, a few considerations:
If your food goals center around weight loss for aesthetic purposes, weight loss won’t make you happy in either the short or long term, that happiness will only come from within. Maybe get a boat instead.
As individuals, our bodies differ, so any recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt (pun intended) as they are broad generalizations based on large sample sizes.
The less food restriction, the better. A big red flag should be waved if someone is telling you they completely remove large groups of foods for health reasons.
So, here is a non-exhaustive and out-of-order list of what to be mindful of when eating and past 50:
Add color! Fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, seeds, all of it! Think Skittles here: see the rainbow, taste the rainbow. Did you know: the different plant colors are due to phytonutrients: various substances plants produce naturally to ward protect themselves. You’ve heard of them by their specific names like carotenoids or flavonoids, and play some role in the aging process. This is why variety is important in receiving the whole benefit cornucopia.
Try food from different locales! With age comes wisdom, and use your knowledge of different areas to try new restaurants out of your comfort zone. Incorporate those herbs and spices in your diet. Don’t forget to experiment with your spice jars too! (of note a “diet” is what you eat, and isn't necessarily something you do.)
Pro-tip: Calcium and protein go hand-in-hand oftentimes, and good news: these two can come in the form of yogurt, cheese, and eggs! Maintaining strong skeletal muscle tissue and bone density CAN be tasty, but don't take it from me, a cannibal.
Protein delays the onset of sarcopenia! Aging is not a disease, some people just get old too fast. Adequate protein combined with exercise is a surefire way to ensure you are active at any age. You never know when you might be foisted into a Bruce Willis action movie sequence, so stay prepared. Shoot for 15 grams or more per meal.
Fiber. That’s it! Increase it! The vast majority of Americans get less than half the recommended daily amount of this nutrient. It reduces risk of heart disease and cancer, and comes from all sorts of tasty sources! But wait there’s more: there are stats to prove this! An observational study tested total dietary fiber intake in relation to total mortality and said that those who had the highest fiber intake had a 23% less chance of dying from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases. PLUS fiber makes you feel full so you can concentrate on the killer one-liner you want to use on that man across the bar, and less on what you food you want to get with the man across the bar (don’t get ahead of yourself.)
People who comment on what you eat aren’t to be tolerated! None of the “should you be eating that?” or “that doesn’t look healthy” talk should be condoned in your house, or any other for that matter.
On Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says: “ for adults to maintain healthy skin, food must supply certain essential fatty acids: linolenic acid (LA), an Omega-6 and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3.’ In addition, they continue to say “ (the omegas) may promote immunity, help reduce inflammation, help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and contribute to the hormones that regulate blood clotting.” Their advice is to get these from whole food sources!
Have fun with it! Explore new things, set off some smoke alarms in your house, and don’t apologize for anything! Even when things are burnt. Eating is social and spiritual and shouldn’t bring you down. Take care of you, and don’t try to throw too many things at yourself at once. Make it as stressless as possible.
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