Our health needs change with every passing decade, but the good news is that it's never too late to start taking better care of yourself.
Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, the Well Midlife Tune-up will put you on a healthier path to improving your body, mind and relationships. You are only as old as you feel and completing this tune-up by Tara Parker-Pope at New York Times will definitely help you feel young at heart. Let's get started.
Healthful eating is not the only way to improve your overall wellbeing, but it’s often the first place many of us start.
Food is not the enemy; it’s just the bad habits that need to go. As you embark on tuning up your eating habits, don’t think about going on a diet or losing weight. Instead, make a promise to yourself that you’re going to focus on healthful eating habits that will make you feel well today and every day. If you do that, you’ll have more energy and chances are you will also lose weight. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
NO MORE PACKAGED FOODS
Midlife is a great time to stop eating packaged processed foods. We eat a lot of these foods for convenience when we are rushing kids out the door to school or when we’re working late. Whether you still have kids at home or an empty nest, resolve to stop eating packaged foods. (Help your kids kick the habit now!) Here are some tips for eliminating packaged food from your daily diet.
Only buy single-ingredient items from the grocery store. Some foods — like milk, yogurt and almonds — have to come in a package, but you will know it’s OK to eat them because the container label shows only one or two ingredients. Processed foods (think chips, cookies, frozen dinners) have multiple ingredients, additives and added sugar. Don’t eat them. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple. Make a simple avocado taco (you can buy the salsa if you don’t have time for homemade), roast a really big beet or make a more-vegetable-than-egg frittata.
Don’t be fooled by “healthy” foods. Granola bars, sports drinks and vegetable chips sound like they’d be good for you, but they are loaded with added sugars, extra calories, food colouring, preservatives and other things you don’t need. Grab some nuts or an apple instead.
Find homemade alternatives. If you love breakfast cereal, make your own blueberry oatmeal or steel-cut oatmeal with fruit, make your own granola or a yogurt parfait. Love French fries? Cut up some sweet potatoes and bake fries at home. Mac-n-cheese from a box? Our Cooking team has 11 great ways to make it yourself.
SKIP THE SUGAR
The nutrition community has spent much of the past few decades talking about the perils of fatty foods and eating too many calories. But increasingly, research is showing that sugar is what ails us. Not only is there evidence that it makes you gain weight, but it appears that the body metabolises sugar in a way that is, quite literally, toxic. Sugar appears to play a role in insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes, heart disease and other problems. When the body can’t manage the amount of sugar in the blood, the sugar begins to damage artery walls, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.
None of this is to say you can’t enjoy a sweet bite of chocolate or the occasional dessert. In fact, the best advice is to savour every bite of that birthday cake, holiday chocolate or other dessert. But use your midlife tune-up to mindfully stop eating so much added, hidden sugars in your diet.