Healthier eating. It is something that we all would like to do but many of us feel that it is too expensive, takes too much time to prepare, doesn’t taste good – pass me that burger and fries!
We can all make excuses and I know we are surrounded by hundreds of diets that we should be following, BUT if we want to continue Ageing Well and Living Well, then we need to start looking at what we actually eat and why. Healthier Eating After 50 is important to reduce the risk of chronic illness such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
My guest this week, is the lovely Donna from Retirement Reflections. A dear blogging friend of mine who I was fortunate to meet when we visited Canada last year is my next guest in the Ageing Well, Living Well Series.
Donna and her husband Richard, have been on a ‘Quest for Healthier Eating’. Donna shares easy tips to getting started on your own Quest. Easy changes you can incorporate into your life. The photos are of meals that Donna has recently prepared or enjoyed. They show that healthy foods do not need to be dull, boring or difficult to prepare.
A Quest for Healthier Eating
When Sue recently asked me to share my top tip for ageing and living well, I thought this post would be a cinch. “Never let yourself get too lonely” is always my top positive ageing advice…., and most longevity experts agree. Then I remembered that I had written that exact post for Sue this past August.
Back to the drawing board!
My second tip for positive ageing is a bit more complex as it focuses on a quest for healthier eating. It’s a journey that my husband and I are currently on. So far, I have more questions than answers. Below is what I have been discovering along the way. All food pics are my own. They show a good sample of the types of foods that comprise my current diet.
We all know that we should drink more water, eat more vegetables and reduce our consumption of sugar, processed foods and red meat (for starters). Every time we turn around, updated nutritional studies bring forth newfangled terminology and revolutionary ideas. They often give conflicting advice and confuse what we thought we knew about healthy eating. Adding to this complexity, our dietary needs change and become more complicated as we age. Researchers remind us that our risk for disease and disability increases with poor food choices. Often these choices were previously believed to be acceptable, or even healthy. So how do we stay on top of this, and choose the best diet for each of us?
Here’s where I started:
7 tips for eating healthier After 50
1. Begin by talking to your doctor (and not just Dr. Google).
S/he should be able to give you some guidance to address your individual nutritional needs. This may include advice on any medications you are taking that could deplete specific nutrients or conflict with certain foods/drinks. Ask about any vitamins or minerals for which you may risk deficiency (iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine, vitamins A, D and B12 are common ones).
2. Choose healthy food/drinks that you enjoy
When attempting to change parts of your diet that you struggle with (e.g. water or vegetable intake), choose healthy food/drinks that you enjoy as opposed to ones that you think you should be consuming. Not a fan of kale or Brussels sprouts?
Me neither! Sweet potatoes fulfill 438% of your daily vitamin A requirements and are believed to reduce the risks of some cancers. Unsweetened teas and low-sodium broths can also keep you hydrated when you just can’t take another sip of H20. Pictured above is a Beetroot Latte. (Beetroot juice, almond milk and cinnamon). Surprisingly delicious — and definitely not boring!
3. Heard much about plant-based eating, but believe that a vegan/vegetarian diet is not for you?
A flexitarian diet encourages you to load up on vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains without forgoing all meat or dairy products. It is also kinder to our environment than many of the alternatives. Flexitarian diets are often broken down into three categories. Beginners consume 6-8 meatless meals/week. Advanced flexitarians eat 9-14 meatless meals/week. Experts enjoy 15+ meatless meals/week. The different levels help make this diet more doable for all who are interested. Personally, I love the built-in challenge!
4. Consider how you prepare your food.
Steaming vegetables is the best way to retain nutrients and colour. Cooking certain foods with high, dry heat can increase the Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) that we consume. Doesn’t sound good? It’s not. You can read more here. Meanwhile, low, moist cooking methods such as poaching, simmering, steaming, and stewing can help to decrease the formation of AGEs.
5. Stay informed. Knowledge is power.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, approximately 50% of American adults develop diet-related diseases that could be prevented by healthy eating and exercise. Both the World Wide Web and your local bookstore offer endless resources on nutrition and health information. Some are reliable, and others are less so. Ask yourself: Who is providing the information? Is the advice based on fact or individual opinion? Is the material balanced? Is there an attempt to sell a product? When was the resource published? Verifying any information gained with other sources is also a good idea. Some nutrition websites that I enjoy include The New Canada Food Guide (it’s good), Choose My Plate (it’s fun), Nutrition Facts (from the author of “How Not to Die”) and Best Food Facts. For advice on foods and inflammation, I also like the work of Julie Daniluk. For general health concerns regarding food and nutrition, our family doctor always recommends The Mayo Clinic. Use their search bar to find specifics.
6. Eat mindfully.
This simply means to take the time to understand what/ how/why/where/when and with whom you eat. Becoming aware of the above makes you more conscious of the food you eat and your eating habits. This awareness can help you make positive changes to your eating routines and help you to make healthier food choices more often.
7. Keep food fun.
As with tip #3, you’ll likely stick with something much longer when you enjoy it. Experiment with what works best for you.
Here are two examples.
1. Apples, carrots, celery and raw nuts offer a (nutritious) satisfying crunch every time that you bite into them. The more you chew, the slower you eat, and the longer your body has to register that it is full.
2. Even if you only have room for a small windowsill garden, consider growing some of your own food. Fresh, vine ripe tomatoes and basil. Yum!
My hope is that we can make this an interactive post, and you’ll be willing to share your thoughts, practices and successes on this topic. I look forward to this discussion.
What has worked best for you in your quest for healthy eating?
Donna is a recovering Type-A personality. She enjoyed 20+ years as a school administrator (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director). 14 of those years were spent in Beijing. Focussed, organized, passionate and diligent, the words ‘relaxed’ and ‘laid-back’ were seldom used to describe her. In her retirement, Donna has been seeking to change this. She and her husband currently live on Vancouver Island where they enjoy time with family and friends. Avid hikers, they have completed four Camino trails and our currently considering a fifth. You can read more about Donna here.