A Healthier Diet in Just 60 Years!
That sounds like a compelling diet plan eh?
Just 60-years to lose weight?
What we are really talking about is the natural evolution of age.
How our bodies make many dietary decisions for us as we get older, rather than conscious change on our behalf.
If we think back to our pasts, maybe 10-years, 20-years, or even further, these changes become far more apparent.
In my own life, I know there have been many changes, but I can’t really say why, other than it was my body telling me these changes made sense.
For example, I very rarely drink alcohol anymore. I would never say I ‘don’t’ drink, but more that I choose not to.
Even drinking alcohol-free beer started giving me instant headaches, and so, my body was surely telling me this stuff isn’t right for me anymore.
The same goes for steaks. They were once my favourite dinner, but I can’t even remember the last time I ate a slab of meat as a conscious choice.
It’s not that I suddenly had an urge to save the world and all it’s animals, it’s simply that my body decided again that it wasn’t right for me anymore.
Using 60th Sense to Guide Your Diet
While our bodies do seem to move us towards a healthier lifestyle as we age, these changes are extremely slow, and also maybe too late.
Our bodies are already making these decisions based on what it sub-consciously knows, rather than what it has bothered to tell us yet.
Our inner workings are already signalling that if we carry on down these roads of food and ddrink abuse, we are potentially heading into a place where our bodies surely don’t want to be.
And so, rather than waiting for our own 60th Sense to tell us how to adapt our diets, maybe we should take a little responsibility for our own wellbeing, and look to make changes, before our bodies start to tell us it’s already too late.
A Healthier Diet for Older Men
We keep seeing diet fads come and go. I know that Intermittent Fasting is getting quite a lot of press these days. Most probably since Pep Guardiola, the highly-regarded Manchester City, Bayern Munich and barcelona football manager, was outed as following this diet fad.
In many ways though, we don’t need to reach for extremes or fad diets. with a little common sense, we can start making and seeing improvements in our wellbeing, just by managing our dietary intake.
The Basis of a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Without doing anything radical just yet, maybe a sensible starting point is to look at the foods we should be eating.
These are the foods that provide us with the vitamins, minerals and nutrition that we need, as our bodies age.
If you can start to take on board some of the suggestions below, not only will your body and mind start to feel better, your thinking will slowly adjust to accepting changes, and even seeking more change.
Fruit and Vegetables
For as long as I can remember, we have been told to eat 5-a-day, yet to my deepest recollections, I can only ever think of one person who I ever knew to ardently adhere to this mantra, (well done Clive).
The problem here I believe is down to simple practicality.
It’s not that I mind eating 5 fruits a day. In fact, I genuinely enjoy most fruits. The problem is partly habit, and mostly around the pre-planning of that habit.
For me, it’s easy enough to eat an apple, a pear or a banana, but that is assuming they are there on the side, ready to eat when the fancy takes.
So, more than anything, and in my own experience at least, we need to up our game by not only knowing what to eat, but thinking far enough ahead to make that food available for us to eat when the desire strikes.
It’s too easy to stack the freezer with tempting ice-creams. It’s not so tough to stash chocolates or biscuits in a cupboard. It is however much more of a planning challenge to have fresh fruit and vegetable waiting in an edible state.
In any case, let’s now get clear about what we should be eating, and as we set those thoughts in our minds, we can figure out how to get them in front of us, once the desire is set.
5 Fruits a Day
We can all agree that fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and low in fat.
Assuming you took the time to stock up, they are also very convenient, with fruits requiring either no, or very little preparation before eating.
If you also bear in mind that eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent heart disease and even some types of cancer, the arguements against start to fall away.
Did you notice though how things have changed more recently. The fruit we buy from the supermarkets is usually not quite ripe enough to eat, yet looks so tempting to eat. Yet when it becomes ripe, it seems to deteriorate much more rapidly than the fruit we buy from greengrocers.
Luckily, we don’t need to sit watching the fruit we bought for that magic 5-minute window when it is deliciously edible. We can indulge in frozen, dried or tinned fruit, just as beneficially as fresh. The same goes for vegetables too.
If this route is more convenient for your lifestyle, do try to avoid fruit tinned in syrup, and vegetables canned in brine, as these aren’t really playing the healthy lifestyle game.
Next up, we need to establish what 5-a-day actually means. I know most people are joking about eating 5 grapes as their allocation. However, I also know of people who feel that this is a fair interpretation too.
In truth, you should assume that one portion is around 80g, This is similar to an average sized apple, pear or orange.
If you really want to go with grapes, then a handful might just about hit one of your 5.
For those wanting to take the easy route, then you could have a smoothie, or glass of fresh fruit juice, but this should only replace one portion, rather than hoping to down 1 litre, innocently hoping to hit your target in one gulp.
Don’t forget, these targets are meant to help. They are not taxes, to be avoided or ignored wherever possible.
To make this, or any other dietary benefit stick, you need to accept it in your head first, or your healthy eating habits simply won’t ever be formed.
Oh, I forgot to cover off the vegetables, just in case anyone prefers them to fruits, or just wants a bit more balance in their diet.
So here goes, one portion is equal to around Three heaped tablespoons of either fresh or frozen vegetables. Bear in mind that a tablespoon is the one you use to serve trifle with, not the one you eat it with (I hope).
Stacking Up With Starch
While many would say that carbohydrates are not great, they do provide many benefits, and most certainly shouldn’t be avoided.
This is foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta etc.
Using these as the basis of your meals, you will be stocking up on energy, fibre and B vitamins.
To go down a healthier road, then you could opt for higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or by leaving the skins on potatoes. These are not only low in fat and high in fibre, they are good sources of other essential nutrients – protein, vitamins and minerals.
Breakfast cereals can be a good source of energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre. However, before you reach for the Coco Pops or Frosties, we are really meaning those more healthy cereals, such as muesli or a natural oat porridge etc.
Starting the day this way really helps to influence more healthy bowel movements, which in turn can help reduce the risk of some common intestinal disorders.
Water, Water, Everywhere
This is just a tiny little reminder of our need for water.
Fluid really helps fibre to pass through our body, and keeps those internal functions working much better.
For me, I am a mad tea drinker, so I researched into whether hot tea could be counted as a water replacement. After all, the British weather is not normally driving me to think of water, but it certainly makes me crave that hot cuppa.
The information landscape can be confusing (and partly the reason why I chose to start this blog), but after much research and data gathering, I am confident in the belief that tea is also classed as water intake.
I happen to drink my tea without milk or sugar, so this is even better, eh?
Anyway, whether it is water, tea, low-fat milk, or low sugar juices, you should aim for around 6 to 8 glasses a day.
Down The Dairy
We’ve pretty much been brainwashed into understanding the benefits of dairy products.
Even all of those red traffic lights glashing on cheese packaging doesn’t overwrite our belief in the goodness it contains.
Milk, yoghurt and cheese are great sources of calcium, vitamins A, D and B12, protein and fat.
It doesn’t stop there though, as the calcium they provide helps to build our strong teeth and bones and for nerve and muscle function.
Of course, we should always try to choose the healthier option, lower-fat and low-salt options will provide the benefits, but remove some of the bits we don’t need so much of.
As the health trends continue to evolve, so do the brands that appear healthier, yet possibly aren’t quite so great.
Therefore, rather than just grabbing that bottle of soy milk, it might be wise to take a look at the ingredients. You might be shocked!
While we are not going to dive into labelling and additives here, the most important thing to remember as a basis, is the ingredients listed at the top of the list, are the ones with the most included.
It might also be worth trying to get familiar with some of the ‘scientific’ or ‘industry’ names for some ingredients. You never know, that yummy thing near the top of the list, might just be another word for sugar, or salt, or even some acid that otherwise wouldn’t be so welcomed.
A More Balanced Diet
A little of something does you good, or so my granny used to say.
With food, it generally is the case, as long as we try to eat more natural foods, rather than the less healthier processed, ready-made varieties.
- Meat is good in moderation. It provides many useful nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B12 and iron.
- Fish is even better, and especially those more fatty ones. Salmon, mackerel and pilchards contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids and are good for heart health.
- Eggs are convenient and healthy too.
- Processed foods of meat and especially chicken usually contain more fat and salt, but less iron than the natural alternative. It’s ok to include these in your diet for convenience, but keep this to a minimum, rather than a primary GoTo.
Minerals and vitamins
The point of a balanced, healthy diet, is to get as many of the nutrients our bodies need, without the added need for supplements.
In some cases, this isn’t the case, and while supplements can bridge the gaps, it really would be better to understand what your body needs, and move slowly towards finding that in your daily diet, rather than in pills.
Wherever possible, you should try to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals from your diet.
There are certain nutrients that are more important as we age.
We will be covering this in more depth as a feature topic.
What to drink
Our bodies needs plenty of fluid to work properly.
A typical amount of fluids is 6-8 glasses a day, but this could increase if you are more active, or if the weather is hotter.
Tea and coffee are fine, but are mild diuretics, which inhibits the retention of water.
Therefore, they will not be as beneficial as pure water, but depending on the strength of the tea or coffee, can provide adequate fluid intake.
The Ideal Weight
We can often question the advised weights for older adults. It seems that anything beyond skinny is overweight, and judging by the height/weight scales, I am classed as obese, yet feel fine and fit and certainly not fat.
For me, I tend not to get hung up about what weight I might be, but instead, I let my inner sense tell me if I feel a little sluggish, or feel fine.
The chances are, if your body is telling you it wouldn’t hurt to lose a few pounds, then it’s a pretty sure bet that your bodies advice is right.
As we get older, being overweight is a primary cause of heart attack and/or diabetes, and we don’t really want either of those.
For sure, if you have weight related concerns, it might be a good idea to ask your GP for a Well Man Checkup, or go directly to talk it over with your doctor (if you can get to see them).
And that neatly leads us to our last thought…
The Things We Need To Reduce
There are a few things that certainly need to be taken in moderation, and we will list these below. In most cases, these are more to do with habit, than with desire, so if you are struggling to reduce your intake of any of these, then start reading more about why they might be bad for you, and start training your mind, before you train your mouth.
- Salt – most processed foods contain high lvels of salt, so choose carefully.
- Sugar – try leaving this out of tea or coffee, and just absorb the sugar that is already in your food.
- Alcohol – Wise up, there is no excuse, there is only habit
- Chocolate – oh hey, some things are simply sacred, the list stops here!