Oh those teenage years – we ate tons of junk food; we devoured gallons of soda, French fries, candy bars, doughnuts, chips, tacos and Big Mac’s. We never gave a thought to our diets, because we never really saw any bad effects – no illness, no weight gain.
We burned the calories we took in. Of course that it changing somewhat today, as children and teens become more sedentary in their lifestyles, spending far more time in front of screens. Still, metabolism still runs high during those years, and much is still burnt off.
As the decades move forward, however, things change. All of a sudden, we notice little pockets of fat appearing – cellulites. And it only gets worse as we move through each decade. Cellulites become larger masses of fat. How to fight this? Well, we can start by figuring out what foods we should cut out of our diets.
It’s a glorious decade for most of us. We have begun our careers; we can still party with the best of them; we form partnerships and marriages; we may even have a child or two of our own.
Metabolism rates are still pretty high, and, as long as we remain relatively active, we don’t see much weight gain – on average 10-15 pounds over the ten years. But, now is the time to become far more diet conscious, not just because of the foods that add weight, but because a lot of disease (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) is connected to long-term consumption of certain types of foods (and drink).
Now is the time to begin a healthier diet for the long haul. In general, you will want to cut down on bad fats, sugars, and refined grains, and, sorry, alcohol. So, begin to avoid fatty red meats, sodas and sweet snacks, large amounts of chips and refined pastas and bread.
By now, metabolism is truly beginning to slow down. In fact, many researchers and dieticians say that you should consume 100 calories less per day than you did in the previous decade. For those of you who don’t want to count calories (and who does), and want to avoid some of the diseases that come with bad diet choices, here are some foods to avoid – fried anything, unless it is with oils that have good cholesterol, whole fat dairy products, red meats unless very lean (fast-food hamburgers are not lean), and large amounts of carbohydrates (breads and pastas).
The problem with carbohydrates is this: they can give quick energy just like sugar, but if they are not burned off they turn to sugar; and if sugar is not burned off, it turns to fat. With a slower metabolism and more time probably spent at a desk or in front of a screen, those carbs and sugars will bring on the fat.
And those doughnuts that everyone keeps bring to the office? Switch to whole grain bagels with low-fat cream cheese. This is also the decade in which cholesterol begins to add plaque to arteries, so fat has to be decreased.
Consider this your decade to get really serious about the long-term effects of poor diet. That flab that has been building over the past two decades is beginning to look pretty serious too. You need to consume 100 fewer calories a day less than your past decade, because your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn them) has decreased even more.
Because our careers have become more demanding, with greater responsibilities and stress, and because we tend to have more going on in our personal lives (kids going through adolescence, aging parents), we have less time for our own physical activity and less time to prepare the kinds of meals we should be eating. So, we eat “on the run” – takeout pizza and fried chicken, because that’s what the kids want to eat and it’s easy.
Here are foods to avoid even more than last decade – fried, fatty offerings (while chicken is considered better than beef, chicken with skin and fried is far worse than a grilled steak); cut out as much dairy as possible – take calcium supplements instead; have one cocktail rather than two, and, when at a party or a long day of football watching, drink water in between each beverage. Avoid the fatty hors d’ouerves and go for the fresh veggies instead.
This is the healthy eating on steroids decade. What you do during this decade is largely going to determine your health in your senior years. The single most important food additive to avoid during this decade is sodium – yes, salt. It is the biggest culprit in the formation of high blood pressure, along with accumulation of plaque in your arteries.
Learn to season food with other spices – garlic, ground mustard (the bottled kind has lots of sodium), curry, and such. And you will need to stop eating canned goods to such an extreme. Every canned food product has a large amount of salt – hit the frozen food section and buy sodium-free vegetables, or, better, hit the produce department and buy them fresh.
If you really must have the taste of salt, buy a salt substitute – it’s more expensive but your health is worth it. Just as in the previous decade, you must continue to avoid fatty red meats, fried foods, GMO foods and large amounts of alcohol. Those fat and sugar-packed desserts should be for rare occasions too.
It can be pretty depressing – the older you get, the more you have to give up those foods that brought you so much joy when you were younger. But here’s the thing: You can train your taste buds and your brain to enjoy other foods, and there are really tasty options if you take the time to learn how to make them. And when you go out to eat and have that one steak a month that you have allotted yourself? Think how great it will taste!
By: Alice Calch