We are often told that the body inevitably disappoints. The waistline expands, the metabolism slows and energy fades. Turning the corner on 50, my experience has been completely the opposite. My body fat is half of what it was before I turned 50. My skin is brighter. I have more energy, my digestion is better, I sleep better and I’m in the best shape of my life. Can a body be better after 50? Can a former yo-yo dieter with an underactive thyroid and a sugar habit turn it all around?
What I know for sure is:
1. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE to benefit from a leaner frame, more energy, fewer medications and flipping the switch to prevent (and often reverse) disease.
2. CLEAN EATING IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE and means different things to proponents of the lifestyle. The only magic bullet (there is one) is eating more ‘plants’ – whole grains, beans and legumes, raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and plant protein. As food journalist Michael Pollan purports ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’
3. HOW OFTEN ONE EATS REALLY MATTERS. Previously, I was caught up in the diet dogma of eating every few hours for energy. My body did not have the digestive rest required to heal and restore itself. In fact, true hunger which signals the body’s need for food comes with significantly more time between meals.
4. CHANGE IS HARD BUT NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS OPTIMIZED HEALTH FEELS. Your taste buds are more resilient to change than you might believe. You may not escape the withdrawal symptoms which occur when you stop eating addictive foods but once the dust settles from that powdered sugar haze and nutrient-packed, whole food becomes your true north, the body will honor this shift beyond your anti-aging dreams.
5. LIFESTYLE DISEASES ARE PREVENTABLE AND REVERSIBLE. Google this and rejoice. Then do something.
6. RANDOM EATING, CLEANSING AND CALORIE-RESTRICTION WITHOUT A LIFESTYLE CHANGING STRATEGY WILL NOT LAST. Doing the life-changing work required to make a permanent shift can unlock the door to transformation at mid-life and beyond.
7. EATING THE MOST NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS PROMOTES OPTIMAL HEALTH.
In short, plant foods contain the most concentrated, health-promoting and disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phyto-chemicals. Dark leafy vegetables are nutritional VIPs (Very Important Plants).
8. YOU CAN GET ENOUGH PROTEIN WHETHER OR NOT YOU EAT MEAT.
Meatless meals need not be short on protein. Experiment with meat-free substitutes in the kitchen or visit a restaurant that excels at it. I recently ate a BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potato sandwich on multi-grain with grilled onions and a shallot aioli from New York City’s vegan oasis Candle Café. It was unequivocally one of the best things I have encountered on a plate – ever.
9. COOKING IS NOT JUST FOR COOKS. I grew up eating from my mother’s perpetually stocked freezer. It was an easy draw for this non-cook. But once I learned that plant-centered, whole food preparation was quick and delicious, I started to prepare and build an arsenal of simple, budget-friendly recipes I could repeat. Now I cook, pin, blog and tweet what I eat. My freezer is now my convenience store.
10. WHEN YOU OBLITERATE CRAVINGS FOR SUGAR, SALT, FAT, MEAT, DAIRY AND CAFFEINE, THE BODY REBOOTS IN A BIG WAY. Reduce and eliminate the foods that create uncontrolled urges and your ability to escape from the nagging addiction to these foods increases exponentially
What I know for sure at 50 is that incessant calorie-counting, measuring of portions and checking weight on the scale daily is hazardous to the health. Until I learned to eliminate toxic cravings and see food as sacred fuel, I could not permanently change habits cultivated over years entangled in a paradigm of dieting.
In this season of eating do-overs, resolutions and goal setting, I’m grateful knowing that our food choices at any age, at every meal, impact the vital numbers which determine our healthy destiny. People will ask me now, “What are you – a Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian? Will you eat Pasteur-raised meat? Cage-free organic eggs? Can you really eat healthy on a budget? Who has the time to Cook More?”
My answer in short is that I am a plant-propelled Qualitarian and impassioned Nutritarian in search of the next nutrient-rich meal which will optimally fuel my day and provide me a disease-fighting chance to age well. I aim to get on the Smucker’s jar on the Today Show when I am 100.
So what’s for lunch?
Ronna Corlin blogs at www.WholeFoodNutritionCoach.com