The more reading and studying I am doing about the nutritional and physical requirements for older women, the more exacting I realize that we must be as we make our nutritional choices. Healthy food choices and exercise are no longer optional, they are mandatory if we are to be formidable in our elderly years. Establish the good practices when you are younger so you won’t have to try to make a lifestyle change when you are 50 and overweight. Good habits and patterns will serve you well in later years. I encourage to once again, whether you are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 to resolve to include practices that are more healthy. To become healthier and fitter, you begin from the inside out.
6 Steps to Becoming Healthy in the Mid-Years
- Eat breakfast. In midlife it is essential to eat breakfast to avoid the blood sugar drop and the corresponding reaction of the body to go into “starvation mode”, thinking that it won’t be fed and automatically slowing down your metabolism. The drop in blood sugar can cause one to have mental confusion, heart palpitations and almost always results in binge eating, which causes us to eat too much and of the wrong thing. Breakfast eating is the foundation of your day. I must have my protein, carbs and fiber to kick start the engine to get ready for the day’s race.
- Eat less calories. The older we get, the less calories we require. You can’t eat the way you did when you were 25 when you are 40+ and expect to stay thin. It doesn’t work. Do you know why? Our metabolism slows 2% every year past age 40! And for those who don’t work out seriously, then the average person loses 10% of their muscle mass by age 50, and muscle burns more calories than fat.
- Eat more nutritionally dense meals. This is very important because if we must eat less calories, then those calories better be more satisfying and filling and therefore more nutritionally dense. There is less room for empty calories. This means that you must make optimum food choices to eat the healthiest food, the most fulfilling food, and for the least amount of calories. This way this takes more thought and planning, but is well worth it.
- Eat Less Meat: As we become older our intestinal system becomes “weaker” if you will, and the ability to process meats declines. This increases the time it takes food to go through our digestive system. This can result in unpleasant things such as bloating, gas, cramps, constipation, diverticulosis and possibly even evolve into colon cancer. There is also less acid secreted by your stomach as you age, so this makes meats and some vegetables more difficult to digest.
- Eat More Fiber: Fiber decreases the time it takes for food to pass through the digestive system. Fiber also gives the intestinal walls a chance to expand and contract regularly to keep those muscles in shape. The older we get, the more our intestinal system needs to “exercise”, so the more fiber you need. I happen to eat a lot of raw vegetables, but to get the best form of fiber I need to keep the pipeline clean, I have a daily dose of ground flax meal. I currently have 4 tablespoons a day in my morning protein shake. The flax makes you feel fuller because it expands and it does its job housecleaning your intestinal system. If you take flax, keep your water intake to 8 8-oz glasses a day, so it won’t have a clogging effect. Flax is tasteless and is more of just a texture. And the best news about flax, is that it does its job without pain. You can buy Bob’s Old Mill Ground Flax Meal for around $2.39* for a 1 lb bag at Whole Foods, which is half the price charged by regular grocery stores. (*Whole Foods has increased their price in the past couple of weeks to $3.69 for a 1 lb bag. Some of the mainstream grocery stores still charge more).
- Exercise! You must exercise to increase your muscle mass lost after age 50. Regular walking or jogging stimulates bone growth. In middle age, exercise is no longer optional, that saying is true, “either move it or lose it.” I don’t always want to exercise either, but it is mandatory. Schedule it in your day planner or your Outlook, otherwise, you might not get around to it.